What is Included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

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Times are stressful as many people find themselves out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis. The United States government is working to lighten some of the financial burden. One of the first pieces of legislation to pass regarding the COVID-19 crisis is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law on March 18th, 2020.

The FFCRA requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave to employees affected by coronavirus.

At the same time, the employers providing that leave are supplied with a corresponding tax credit. There are two specific types of leave provided under this act, including the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act Expansion and Emergency Paid Sick Leave. In some cases, employers with fewer than 25 employees may be exempt from providing paid leave.

The FFCRA has necessitated the expansion of FMLA requirements which may allow further protected leave for families affected by coronavirus.

According to the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act, a person need only be employed with a company for 30 days before they are eligible for up to 12 weeks of protected leave due to coronavirus. Expanded FMLA leave is only applicable if a parent must take off work to care for a minor child/children whose school/care center closed down due to COVID-19.

Health care providers and emergency responders are excluded from expanded FMLA. It should be noted that leave gained through the FFCRA and the FMLA Expansion Act are limited to 12 weeks total, even combined, and the first 10 days of FMLA leave can be unpaid. The employee is allowed to choose to substitute paid vacation, PTO, or sick leave for this time instead.

An employer cannot require employees to use paid vacation, PTO, or sick leave.

The remainder of the leave will be paid at ⅔ of the employee’s usual rate of pay up to $200 a day, or up to $511 a day depending on the circumstances of the leave. Employers who fail to pay this leave will be held culpable just as they would for failure to pay minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Companies with 500 employers or fewer and government entities are required to offer emergency paid sick leave.

This applies to employees who are unable to work on-location and are also unable to work remotely for reasons related to COVID-19. Full-time employees may take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave under emergency paid sick leave due to coronavirus. Part-time employees will be compensated with the average number of hours they usually worked over a period of 2 weeks. This applies regardless of the length of employment

The FFCRA also accounts for financial assistance to businesses struggling to pay for their employees’ leave due to coronavirus.

The FFCRA applies refundable tax credits to employers required to offer paid leave, so they can hopefully make back some of the money they had to pay out. Congress is currently working on further economic stimulus efforts to relieve the financial pressure on American businesses.

As Congress works toward solutions to aid the American people, legislation regarding COVID-19 relief is subject to change/interpretation/additions.