With much of America in disarray from the current state of the Coronavirus outbreak, the United States Government is working to find solutions to keep the economy from falling as well. On March 14th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”, an effort that obligates employers with less than 500 employees to provide additional paid sick leave and expand family medical leave.
Although the act hasn’t been signed into law yet, it would provide significant assistance with provisions to protect children, citizens with food insecurities, and pay for COVID-19 testing. Here are a few more details regarding this newly proposed government act.
The FFCRA provides emergency funding to states who demonstrate commitments to ease certain restrictions on obtaining employment insurance to assist with processing/ paying unemployment benefits. The purpose is to encourage states to allow employees who are ill or unable to work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to receive unemployment benefits.
Employers can apply for and receive specific tax credits for the payments made to employees for the required Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Paid Sick Leave. Full-time employees will be eligible for up to 80 hours of paid leave, while part-time workers will be eligible to receive pay for whatever number of hours typically worked in a two-week time span. Employers may receive a tax credit of up to 100% of the amount EPSLA paid to employees, up to a maximum of $511/day for the employees own illness, or $200/day if the employee is caring for another ill family member.
Expanded Family Medical Leave (FMLA)
Employers with less than 500 employees will be required to provide paid FMLA leave to employees requiring leave because of illness or care for family members related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Eligible employees can take advantage of FMLA if they’ve been exposed or is experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, they need to provide care for a family member affected by the virus, or to care for a child under the age of 18 who’s school or child care facility is closed due to the public emergency.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Full-time employees will be eligible for up to 80 hours of paid leave, while part-time workers will be eligible to receive pay for whatever number of hours typically worked in a two-week time span. Time awarded is specifically dedicated to employees who find it necessary to miss work because of illness or care for family who may be affected by the Coronavirus. This mandatory paid leave is in addition to any other paid leave already provided by employers. All employees are eligible for this benefit immediately upon hire and aren’t required to use other paid leave before taking advantage of Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
If the act passes the Senate, it will go into effect immediately. Until then, employers with less than 500 employees are encouraged to review current sick leave policies and prepare for additional sick leave and expanded FMLA.