On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was approved by Congress and signed by President Trump. There are a number of provisions in the law that will directly impact many employers. Key portions of the bill are discussed below.
EXPANDED LEAVE UNDER THE FMLA (FOR EMPLOYERS WITH FEWER THAN 500 EMPLOYEES)
The FFCRA amends the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide for a new type of family leave related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It provides for 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for a minor son or daughter if the child’s school or place of care has been closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to an emergency declared by a federal, state, or local authority related to COVID-19.
Employees will become eligible for this leave after only 30 days of service – as opposed the 12 months for most FMLA leave. This portion of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act applies to private sector employers with less than 500 employees, and to all public sector employers. The coronavirus FMLA leave will be two (2) weeks of unpaid leave with the potential for ten (10) subsequent weeks of leave paid at two-thirds of the employees regular pay (capped at $200/day). During the unpaid portion of the leave, employees are permitted to substitute available paid vacation, personal, medical, or sick leave for the unpaid leave.
Employers will be given tax credits for FMLA leave wages paid under this new provision. (See below)
Under the law, the Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to issue regulations to: (1) exclude health care providers and emergency responders from the benefits of this law; and (2) to exclude businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the requirements of this law when compliance with the law would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
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