On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law. This economic stimulus plan is designed to address the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on Americans and contains two provisions that will impact employers with 1 – 500 employees effective April 2, 2020. Specifically, the FFCRA mandates emergency paid sick leave to all employees and expands the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions to include leave for “a qualifying need related to a public health emergency”.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) requires covered employers to provide a maximum of 80 hours paid sick leave for all employees who are unable to work (or telework) due to their own or another individual’s COVID-19 illness or quarantine, or due to their child’s school or daycare facility’s closure. It is important to note that there is no minimum length of service requirement for this benefit.  Full-time employees will be entitled to 80 hours of pay whereas part-time employees will be entitled to pay for the average number of hours worked in a two week period.  Paid sick leave for an employee’s own condition is limited to $511/day ($5,110 total) and $200/day ($2,000 total) when an employee is caring for someone else. Leave related to caring for someone else, or for another reason authorized by the Department of Health and Human Services, must be paid at no less than 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay and capped at $200/day ($2,000 total).

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) expands the current federal Family and Medical Leave Act by expanding FMLA leave for “a qualifying need related to a public health emergency.”  This leave is solely available to those employees who are unable to work or telework due to the need to care for a child under 18 because of school and/or daycare facility closures related to the COVID-19 health emergency.  In such cases, employees will be entitled to take ten days of unpaid time off from work although employees can substitute available sick, PTO or EPSLA time.  The remaining ten weeks must be paid at no less than 2/3 of the employee’s usual wages, capped at $200/day.

Employers will receive quarterly payroll tax credits for amounts paid to their employees under these leave provisions but those credits will be capped per employee at pre-determined levels.

The Secretary of Labor is authorized to issue regulations exempting employers with fewer than 50 employees if the law’s requirements will jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.

The Act expires on December 31, 2020.

The Employment Law Practice Group at Stafford Rosenbaum LLP is ready to answer questions or assist you with implementation of these new requirements.  Please contact Attorney Meg Vergeront at 608.256.2663 or at mvergeront@staffordlaw.com.

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