Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

May 11, 2020

As businesses look toward the prospect of reopening, it is important to bear in mind that employers must adhere to the federal laws regarding paid leave for employees.  The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  FFCRA provides paid leave for qualifying employees impacted by or caring for someone impacted by COVID-19.  FFCRA is effective from April 2, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

FFCRA has two components:

(1)  EPLSA (“Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act”) and

(2) EFMLEA (“Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act”).

EPSLA provides certain employees up to two weeks of paid leave, while EFMLEA is an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and provides certain employees an initial ten-day period of unpaid leave, followed by a period of paid leave up to ten weeks.

Employers and employees should become familiar with the new law.  A few important facts about the new law include:

  • Currently, FFCRA applies to employers with 500 or fewer employees. Employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt from providing the paid leave if doing so would jeopardize their “economic viability.”

  • Both full time and part time employees may qualify for benefits under EPSLA and EFMLEA.

  • If you can “telework” you may not qualify for EPSLA or EFMLEA leave.  FFCRA defines the term and outlines when an employee is able to telework as defined by FFCRA.

  • Duration of employment may not matter.  Under  EPSLA, duration of employment does not matter; however, under EFMLEA, the employee must have been employed for at least 30 days before the first day of leave.

  • Self-imposed quarantines may not qualify employees for leave.  For example, EPSLA applies only when: a) the employee is quarantined pursuant to a government order or advice of a health care provider; b) is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; c) is caring for an individual subject to quarantine order; d) is caring for a child whose school/care provider has been closed due to coronavirus; d) or is experiencing any other “substantially similar condition” as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

  • Employers that provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave are eligible for reimbursement of the costs of that leave through refundable tax credits taken against the employer’s portion of the Social Security taxes. If the employer pays more benefits than it owes in taxes, the credits are refundable.

As your business plans to reopen, Garcia & Milas attorneys are available to assist you with questions regarding your rights and obligations under state and federal laws.  We also assist clients in developing employer policies and practices that will aid in the safe and efficient return to operations and comply with sector rules and guiding principles.

This publication is for general information purposes only and is not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.