Kathryn Lease Simpson, Esquire
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers of less than 500 employees to provide the employees with paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The FFCRA applies from April 1 through December 31, 2020.
Paid Sick Leave
The FFCRA sick leave provisions state that employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is:
- quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or
- experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
Expanded Family and Medical Leave
The FFCRA expanded family and medical leave provisions require two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because:
- of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or
- to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or
- the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.
Employees are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days:
- is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
What Employers Must Provide Paid Sick and Family Leave?
The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Certain provisions may not apply to all employers but the regulations have not yet been published so details regarding these exemptions are not yet known.
What Employees are Covered?
All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.
How Is This Paid For?
The FFCRA makes available tax credits for the maximum amounts that the employers must pay to employees taking the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave through payroll tax credits. Employers will be able to retain the amount of payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying leave they have paid. The payroll taxes that are available to be retained include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees (not just those attributable to the employees taking the leave). If the amount of payroll taxes is not sufficient to cover the costs of the qualified leave, the IRS will allow employers to seek an expedited advance from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less.
What Must an Employer Do?
Employers must provide notice of the FFCRA to all employees by posting the information in the workplace. Where employees are working remotely, the information should be provided via email. Additionally, the employee handbook should be updated to include the provisions of the FFCRA.
Where Can I Go For Help?
Contact Mette, Evans & Woodside for assistance with determining whether you are a covered employer, whether you qualify for an exemption, drafting the content of the notice to the employees, drafting the changes to your employee handbook, and any other questions you might have.
Kathryn L. Simpson – firstname.lastname@example.org