The following information is very new and constantly changing but we wanted to provide it to you as quickly as we could. Please note the date of the post and recognize that each business is different in how this will or will not apply to them. We may not have the answers to all of your questions but we will do our best to answer how this applies to you.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) expanded to provide relief to those affected by COVID-19
“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA), which goes into effect April 1, 2020 and expires December 31, 2020, responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing additional assistance in the areas of COVID-19 testing, sick leave, food assistance, and more. We’ve compiled key details of FFCRA that we believe you need to know.
The following items are mandatory unless you believe it will “jeopardize the viability of the business is a growing concern”. You may apply for an exemption, but the Department of Labor has yet to provide details of how this exemption process will work and who qualifies.
In summary, the Act:
- Requires employers to provide emergency paid sick leave to workers affected by COVID-19
- Expands family and medical leave (FMLA) for employees that are required to care for children out of school or daycare.
- Offers increased funding for state unemployment insurance, food stamp and nutritional programs.
More specifically, here’s what The Families First Coronavirus Response Act means for both business owners and employees in the areas of sick leave and expanded family and medical leave.
- Emergency paid sick leave:
- Employees are eligible for up to two weeks of sick leave (full pay for self, 2/3 pay for family care) for illness, quarantine or school closures.
- Applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees
- All employees no matter the length of employment (some exclusions may apply)
- FMLA expansion covers:
- Employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for school closures (2 weeks unpaid and then up to 10 weeks at 2/3 pay).
- Employers with fewer than 500 employees
- Employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days (some exclusions may apply)
- Employees who must care for children under the age of 18 in the event of school and place-of-care closures or if care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency with respect to COVID-19.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave related to COVID-19
- Is subject to Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
- Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19
- Is experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis
- Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in number 1 or 2 above. (Does not have to be a family member.)
- Is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons
Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
- The Department of Labor Released Guidance on the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Laws – This guidance includes both a general summary of the law as well as a FAQ (click https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
- IRS Guidance on Employer Refunds – The IRS issued guidance on how employers who pay employees under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Laws can recoup that cost (click https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-and-labor-announce-plan-to-implement-coronavirus-related-paid-leave-for-workers-and-tax-credits-for-small-and-midsize-businesses-to-swiftly-recover-the-cost-of-providing-coronavirus
- Employer Rating For Unemployment Is Not Impacted By Coronavirus Related Unemployment Claims – Governor Doug Ducey recently issued an Executive Order (click https://azgovernor.gov/executive-orders Executive Order 2020-11)
- Local Attorney’s guidance on the changes https://coppercanyonlaw.com/2020/03/27/coronavirus-legal-update-arizona/