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FFCRA and EFMLEA Provide Additional Protections for Employees Affected by COVID-19

Accessibility, Employment

DRAZ wants you to stay informed about COVID-19 relief that may apply to members of the disability community. The pandemic poses unique problems for individuals with underlying conditions and parents of children with disabilities. This blog post and tomorrow’s blog post will cover two new laws that may affect you and your family.

On March 18, 2020, Congress passed two new laws, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). These laws provide benefits for employees who had to take sick leave due to COVID-19 qualifying reason, or had to take time off to care for their child. The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued temporary rules concerning FFCRA and EFMLEA; it is important to stay up to date with DOL’s website should they issue or amend the rules.  Today’s blog post provides answers to frequently asked questions about FFCRA.  Tomorrow’s blog post will provide key information about EFMLEA.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) & Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)

  1. What it is: The FFCRA is a law that requires qualified employers to provide paid leave for employees if the employee is unable to work or telework under qualifying circumstances. Unable means the employer has work for the employee, but the employee is unable to go to work because of a qualifying circumstance.
  2. Which employers are covered under EFMLEA? FFCRA applies to private employers with less than 500 employees and public employers (e.g. local governments).
  3. Are there any exceptions to which employers are covered by the FFCRA? The FFCRA does not apply to healthcare providers. DOL has broadly defined healthcare provider to also include caregivers and nursing home employees. The FFCRA also does not apply to first responders (e.g. police, paramedics, and the National Guard.
  4. What are the qualifying reasons an employee may use to request for paid sick leave? DOL lists six qualifying reasons for paid sick leave. To qualify, the employee must:
    • be subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
    • have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
    • be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
    • be caring for an individual subject to federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, or the family member has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
    • be caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
    • be experiencing any other substantially similar conditions as articulated by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
  1. How is pay calculated? Pay is calculated using the following guidelines:
    • For reasons 1-3, the employee is entitled to full pay, with a cap of $511 per day or $5,110 total
    • For reasons 4-6, the employee is entitled to 2/3 pay, with a cap of $200 per day or $2,000 total
    • Full-time employees may use up to 80 hours of paid sick leave.
    • Part-time employees may use the number of hours equal to the number of hours they average over a 2-week period. For more information on calculating this figure, please contact your human resources department.
    • The paid sick leave is in addition to the sick leave offered by your employer.
  1. Are any employers exempt from this rule? There is a small business exemption. An employer can be exempt from this rule if the employer has fewer than 50 employees AND one of the three following reasons apply:
    • The leave would pose a financial burden, with the costs exceeding available business revenue to operate at minimal capacity;
    • The absence of the employee would create a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities because of that employee’s expertise; or
    • The employer is unable to find other employees who are willing and able to perform the tasks, so that the business can operate.

Here are some other key facts about FFCRA:

FFCRA is only applicable from April 1, 2020 until December 31, 2020. This means if you had a leave request sometime in March 2020, the FFCRA would not apply.

FFCRA does not apply if the business closes.

FFCRA does not apply if the business remains open, but lays you off (as part of a workforce reduction).  In other words, employees who are laid off, or furloughed, are not entitled to leave under FFCRA.

For more information, please see DOL’s website. Read tomorrow’s blog post for important information about the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to address COVID-19.

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