The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes provisions for emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA eligibility and benefits.
Employees of a business with less than 500 employees are eligible regardless of the length of their tenure.
Paid Sick Leave Eligibility:
- The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19;
- A health care provider advised the employee to self-quarantine due to concerns related 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 either subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 or has been advised to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- The employee is caring for the employee’s child whose school has been closed or place of care is unavailable due to COVID-19; or
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretaries of Treasury and Labor. The precise meaning of this sixth reason will be clarified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
- Up to 80 hours of sick leave is to be paid to full-time employees
- Number of hours work, on average, during a two-week period is to be paid to part-time employees
- Part-time employees working varied schedules from week to week may use six-month average to calculate the average daily hours.
Payout of Sick Leave:
Employees qualifying under the first 3 eligibility requirements above will be paid at their regular rate but cannot exceed $511 per day or $5,111 total in the 2-week period.
Employees qualifying under the last 3 eligibility requirements above will be paid 2/3rd of their regular rate but cannot exceed $200 per day or $2,000 total in the 2-week period.
This leave is in addition to any available sick time or PTO already earned by employee. Employers cannot require the employee to use earned sick time or PTO before the emergency paid sick leave.
Examples of Salary Paid:
Example 1 – John Smith is a full-time employee required to self-quarantine by his local government due to COVID-19. His salary is $160,000 per year. John’s weekly salary would normally be $3,077 and daily salary would be $615. His employer would pay him $511 per day or $5,111 for each of the 2 weeks John is on paid sick leave.
Example 2 – Elizabeth Martin is a part-time employee who is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal quarantine due to COVID-19. Her average hours worked per week is 15 and hourly rate is $20. Her employer would pay her $40 per day or $200 for each of the 2 weeks Elizabeth is on paid sick leave.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
Employees of a business with less than 500 employees are eligible if employed for at least 30 days for only this new leave entitlement that lasts through December 31,2020.
Expanded FMLA Eligibility:
An employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave if he/she is unable to work from the office or remotely because school or childcare is closed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and he/she must care for a child under 18 years of age.
Initial 10 days of leave are unpaid, but employee may elect to use paid sick leave or accrued paid sick leave/PTO employee has under employer’s policy during this otherwise unpaid leave.
Up to 400 hours of paid family & medical leave is to be paid to an employee.
Payout of Family & Medical Leave:
Qualifying employees will be paid 2/3rd of their regular rate but cannot exceed $200 per day or $10,000 total in the 10-week period.
Businesses with fewer than 25 employees are not required to reinstate an employee to their position after they return from leave if:
- that previous position has been eliminated due to economic conditions or changes in operations caused by the coronavirus crisis;
- the employer makes reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position; and
- the employer makes efforts over the next year to contact the affected employee if an equivalent position becomes available, but all businesses with more than 25 employees must reinstate the employee to their position.
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from civil actions brought by employees for violations regarding emergency paid FMLA.
Healthcare and emergency response organizations may exclude employees from paid FMLA expansion due to the coronavirus crisis.
Examples of Salary Paid:
Example 1 – Debbie Johnson is a full-time employee caring for her child whose school has been closed due to COVID-19. She is unable to work in the office or remotely at her home. Her salary is $70,000 per year. Debbie has accrued PTO that she uses to be paid her first 2 weeks on family and medical leave. Her employer would pay her $179 per day or $897 for each of the additional Elizabeth is on family and medical leave for up to 10 weeks.
Refundable Tax Credits
Payments made for purposes of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act or the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, including health insurance can be reported on the Federal Form 941 as a tax credit against, withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Amounts exceeding such taxes will be refunded.