On March 18, 2020, H.R. 6201, otherwise known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was signed into law. The law introduces measures to help those impacted by the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Here at Shenon Law Group, we are actively familiarizing ourselves with this and other developing legislation related the pandemic associated with COVID-19. Be sure to check back with Shenonlaw.com for further updates or give us a call at (855) 474-3666 to discuss how these laws may impact you and your business.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Actcontains two sections that may have serious ramifications for both employers and employees alike – The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and The Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) requires certain employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide up to10 days of paid sick leave to employees affected by COVID-19. The employer must pay the employee their regular rate of pay unless the leave is used for the care of another, then the rate of pay is two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. For part-time employees whose schedule varies the employee will be entitled to the average rate of pay over the last 6-month period. Paid sick leave must be provided as follows:
- Full-time employees – 80 hours
- Part-time employees – the average number of hours the employee works over a two-week period
- Since the entire law is set to expire on December 31, 2020, it is expected that such leave will not carryover into 2021
Companies with fewer than 50 employees may petition for an exemption from the Department of Labor if “such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”
Employees may be entitled to EPSLA for any of these qualifications are met:
- The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID–19
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a COVID-19 quarantine order
- The employee is caring for his or her child if the child’s school daycare is closed due to or place of care of the son ordaughter has been closed due to COVID-19
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”)
This portion of the law, which also only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees, expands the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to permit individuals to take a total of 12 weeks of job protected leave for COVID-19 related reasons.
Again, companies with fewer than 50 employees may petition for an exemption from the Department of Labor if “such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”
The EFMLEA applies to all employees that have been employed for at least 30 calendar days and may use the leave for following reasons:
- To comply with a requirement or recommendation for a COVID-19 related quarantine
- To care for a family member that has received a recommendation to enter a COVID-19 related quarantine
- The employee must care for a minor child because of school or childcare is closed due to COVID-19 concerns.
While affected employees may elect to use accrued personal or sick leave during the first 10 days of leave, an employer may not require employees to do so. After the first 10 days of leave, employers must pay affected employees two-thirds their regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day, for the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work over that period.
Payroll Tax Credit for Impacted Employers
Fortunately for employers, the law provides a refundable tax credit for 100% of qualified EPSLA and EFMLA wages paid by an employer for each calendar quarter. The tax credit is allowed against the employer portion of Social Security taxes. If either credit exceeds the employer’s total of the employer portion of the Social Security tax for all employees for any calendar quarter, the excess credit is directly refundable to the employer.