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From the Chamber: Understanding and Interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

From the Chamber: Understanding, Interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Written by Chamber President Kristin Craig

 

Paid Sick Leave, FMLA Expansion – How does it apply to my business?

Understanding and interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is one of the biggest concerns we are hearing from the business community. The new legislation, adopted into law earlier this week greatly expands paid sick leave provisions for most businesses and takes effect on April 1, 2020 and are effective until December 31, 2020.

New information is coming out daily, but I’ve been working with a local attorney, Scott Craig, Cox, Zwerner, Gambill & Sullivan, to help interpret this information specific to the West Central Indiana business community. True confessions: that attorney is my husband and quarantine partner, so he really can’t escape my questions. Many thanks to him for putting up with me and working to assemble some facts and pertinent information.

Below is a brief summary of the FFCRA’s key points, as well as links for additional information. The Chamber will continue to post information and updates via our COVID-19 Business Resource Guide at terrehautechamber.com. Check back often for additional updates.

 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Overview

What employers are covered?
These provisions apply to all employers with less than 500 employees.  There is an exception for employers with less than 50 employees, but only if the employer can show that compliance would jeopardize the viability of the business.  Certain other specific employers (health care providers, emergency responders) may also be exempted.

 

What employees are covered?

All employees, full-time and part-time, are covered. There’s no minimum number of hours or days the employee is required to have worked.

 

What are the reasons an employee can take paid sick leave?

An employee is entitled to take paid sick leave if he/she can’t work (or telework) because:

  • Employee is caring for his/her child whose school, daycare or child-care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
  • Employee is ordered to self-quarantine by government officials
  • Employee is advised by doctor to self-quarantine
  • Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking diagnosis/treatment
  • Employee is caring for family member who is quarantined because of COVID-19

 

What benefits is an eligible employee entitled to receive?

An eligible employee is entitled to up to 80 hours of paid leave (part-time employees are entitled to their average number of hours for the two week period).  There is a cap of $511 per day on the paid leave for those employees who are sick or quarantined.  The cap is $200 per day for employees who are caring for a family member.

 

How does this work with other paid sick leave?

These benefits are in addition to any other form of paid sick leave, PTO, etc. that an employee is entitled to use on account of their illness or the illness of a family member. An employee cannot be required to use other paid time off first.

 

Emergency FMLA Expansion with Paid Leave

This portion of the Act allows eligible employees to take an additional 10 weeks of partially paid leave to care for a child whose school or daycare is closed.  It should be noted tha,t although this law does not cover employees who actually have COVID-19 or are caring for a family member with COVID-19, those employees would likely be eligible for “regular” FMLA as well as two weeks of paid leave under the Emergency Paid Leave provisions discussed above.

What employers are covered?

These provisions apply to all employers with less than 500 employees.  There is an exception for employers with less than 50 employees, but only if the employer can show that compliance would jeopardize the viability of the business.  Certain other specific employers (health care providers, emergency responders) also have exemptions.

 

What employees are covered?

Any employee (full-time or part-time) with at least 30 days of employment is covered.  There’s no minimum number of hours the employee is required to have worked, as long as they’ve been employed for at least 30 days.

 

What are the reasons an employee can take paid leave?

An employee is entitled to take paid sick leave if he/she can’t work (or telework) because:

  • Employee is caring for his/her child whose school, daycare or child-care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19

 

What is the employee entitled to receive?

An eligible employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave.  Employees on leave are paid 2/3rds of their regular pay or 2/3rds the minimum wage (whichever is higher), but capped at no more than $200 per day.

 

Tax Credits for Employers

Employers are entitled to a credit against the employer portion of FICA taxes paid on wages equal to paid sick leave paid to employees under FFCRA.

 

Additional Information

New information is coming out daily in regards to this new legislation. Check with the following resources frequently for new interpretations and information:

Contact your local attorney. They are working to interpret this information as well and will be able to help you understand how it specifically applies to your business.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020. Available here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

In addition, the Department of Labor has released a poster that businesses should distribute to their employees. It is available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

The COVID-19 Business Resource Guide on the Chamber’s website is being update with new information and resources daily. Visit frequently for the most current information: https://www.terrehautechamber.com/business-services/covid-19/