First, we hope all of you, your families and your employees are safe!
As you may have heard, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (see details below). Please note that this is all very new and is still very fluid, so many questions have not been addressed by Congress or the Dept. of Labor. We will be watching this closely and will follow up with more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to call with questions.
What Employers Need to Know About H.R. 6201 “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”
Division C – Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
What is the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act – In general, the Act expands the eligibility and qualifying events of the original Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and requires qualifying employers to pay for up to 10 weeks of the leave at two-thirds the employee’s wages/salary.
What are the Effective Dates? – Immediately and ending 12/31/2020
Which Employers are Bound? – Employers with 50 or more employees when at least 50 employees were on the payroll during 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year (same as original FMLA).
Which Employees are Eligible? – An employee who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days with no mention of full-time or part-time status (different from original FMLA that requires 12 months of employment and 1250 hours worked)
What is a Qualifying Event? – Employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency. (NOTICE: This expanded eligibility criteria is only applicable if the child’s school or daycare is shuttered. It has nothing to do with a medical condition. The original FMLA rules still apply if the employee needs to take time off to CARE FOR a parent, child or spouse with a serious medical condition)
What is a Child Care Provider? – A provider who receives compensation for providing child care services on a regular basis
What is a school? – An elementary school or secondary school
What it Means for the Employee – The first 10 business days of the leave is unpaid under the FMLA Expansion Act, but is paid at 100% under the Emergency Paid Leave Act (see below)
After 10 days, Then What? – After 10 work days, the employer shall provide paid leave under the Expanded FMLA provision for each day of leave. The daily amount is calculated at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay for the number of hours the employee would have worked during the next 10 weeks. There is a cap of $200/day and $10,000 aggregate.
What About Variable Hour/Part-Time Employees? – The time off will still be paid and employer will calculate pay based on the employee’s average hourly rate over the 6-month period looking backward from the time the leave begins.
Which Employers are Exempt? – Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from this Act when the requirement would jeopardize the viability of the business. Employers of health care providers or emergency responders may also elect to exclude their employee from the provisions of this Act
How Much Notice Must an Employee Give? – Employees shall provide the employer with as much notice as is practicable
Will the Employer get Reimbursed for the Paid Leave? – The federal government will reimburse the employer with a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on their quarterly tax form 941 https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-941. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the department would advance funds to businesses concerned about their cash flows. Details will be forthcoming on the advance. Please consult with your tax professional.
Division D – Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act
What is the Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act? – Generally this Act makes it easier to receive unemployment benefits and waives many of the restrictions imposed by a normal Unemployment application process. It may also extend the Unemployment benefit period.
What Must an Employer Do? – Employer must provide notification of the availability of unemployment compensation to employees at the time of separation. Notification may be based on notification language issued by the Secretary of Labor, but until such language is issued, employers should simply inform employees that they may be eligible for unemployment benefits and to seek advice from their local State Unemployment Office,
What Must an Employee Do? – Employees must apply for Unemployment Benefits through their state’s unemployment office. See link to find your State’s Unemployment contact information: https://www.dol.gov/general/location.
How is This Different from Regular Unemployment? – For states that normally impose “waiting periods”, “work search” requirements, “good cause” restrictions, etc. before issuing unemployment benefits, these conditions will now be waived.
How Long Can an Employee Collect Unemployment Benefits? – Each state defines the maximum number of weeks an employee can collect unemployment benefits. Workers in most states can collect unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks, but in the past, Congress has extended this unemployment benefit period due to extraordinary circumstances to 73 weeks. More information will be forthcoming.
Division E – Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
What is this Paid Sick Leave? – In general, the Act entitles all employees, regardless of length of service, paid sick leave for the first 10 days of a qualified leave
What are the Effective Dates? – Immediately and ending 12/31/2020
Which Employers are Bound? Any private entity that employs fewer than 500 employees and any public entity that employs 1 or more employees.
Who is Eligible? – All employees regardless of their length of employment
What Must an Employer Do? –
- Employers must post in a conspicuous place where notices are customarily posed, a notice of the requirements of this Act. The Secretary of Labor will be making this available within 7 days. More to come on this.
- An employer shall provide paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or telework) for any of the following reasons:
- The employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 AND is seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to any of the conditions described above.
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Employers may not discipline, discharge or otherwise take adverse action against any employee who takes leave under the Act
- Employers may NOT require employees to use other paid leave provided by the employer before using Paid Sick Leave under the Act.
When Can an Employee Use Paid Sick Leave? – Employees can immediately use Paid Sick Leave under the Act and should follow any policy or practice for notifying the employer of the need for the time off.
How Is Paid Sick Leave Calculated? – For “full-time” employees, the payout is calculated based on 80 hours (not to exceed $511/day and $5,110 in aggregate).. For “part-time” employees the payout is calculated based on the average number of hours the employee normally works in a 2-week period (not to exceed $200/day and $2000 in aggregate)’
Please Call with any questions,