Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

 

            On April 2, 2020 new changes to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will take effect following the Family First Coronavirus Response Act signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020. The Bill provides for the following provisions among others:

Expanded Family Medical Leave Act

  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees must allow their employees to take up to twelve weeks of job protected leave if the employee is not able to work or telework because of the coronavirus, OR to care for a child who is unable to go to school due to coronavirus related school closure.
  • This change is relatively consistent with FMLA as it stood before. The purpose of this change is to explicitly include not only the coronavirus but also the related school closures.
  • After an employee has been out on FMLA for 10 days, each subsequent day must be paid.
  • This is a big change. Prior to this Bill all FMLA time was unpaid.
  • However, there are some limitations:
  • Employees are to be paid no more than $200.00 per day.
  • Employees will receive no more than $10,000.00 total.
  • An employee is eligible for this Expanded FMLA if they have worked at least 30 days.
  • Generally, to qualify for FMLA, employees must have worked a year.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave:

  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees must also now provide 2 weeks paid sick time to their employees at their regular pay rate in the following circumstances: 1) the employee is sick with coronavirus 2) the employee has been quarantined due to coronavirus 3) the employee is seeking medical attention because they are suffering from symptoms of the disease. These benefits are capped at $511.00 per day and are not subject to the Social Security Tax.
  • Employees are also eligible for two weeks of paid sick leave at no less then two-thirds their regular pay rate in the following circumstances 1) the employee is caring for a child because of a school closure due to coronavirus or 2) the employee is caring for a child suffering from coronavirus. These benefits are capped at $200.00 per day and are not subject to the Social Security Tax.
  • All full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours while part-time employees are entitled to the number of hours normally worked in a 2-week period
  • A few other key points:
  • Employers cannot require that the employee taking sick time find a replacement to cover their hours.
  • There is no thirty-day employment requirement for paid sick time.
  • Employees can take the two weeks of paid sick leave while on the unpaid portion of the emergency FMLA.
  • An Employer cannot require an employee to use any other paid sick leave before using this Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
  • Companies with less than 50 employees may be exempted by the Department of Labor. 

We understand that these are big changes designed to help employees of small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. However, its impact on the small businesses itself remains to be seen. To that end, we may see some amendments in the very near future as various small business groups chime in.

 If you have questions on how this Bill will affect you or your business, reach out to us here at the Smith Law Firm.