On July 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued additional guidance on return-to-work issues under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Enacted at the end of March, the FFCRA provides paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act for certain workers affected by COVID-19. These provisions apply certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.
This guidance is the latest addition to compliance assistance materials the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division has published. These materials include a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers resource about paid sick and expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA.
Generally, the Act provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
FFCRA will help the U.S. combat and defeat the coronavirus by reimbursing, through tax credits, American businesses with fewer than 500 employees for the cost of providing employees with paid leave taken for specified reasons related to the coronavirus. The legislation enables employers to provide such paid leave, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.
We highly recommend viewing the Question and Answers resource with 97 inquiries explained.
Here is a sample of the items addressed by the Department of Labor:
What is the effective date of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act?
The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
My child’s school or place of care has moved to online instruction or to another model in which children are expected or required to complete assignments at home. Is it “closed”?
Yes. If the physical location where your child received instruction or care is now closed, the school or place of care is “closed” for purposes of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave. This is true even if some or all instruction is being provided online or whether, through another format such as “distance learning,” your child is still expected or required to complete assignments.
I am an employee. I become ill with COVID-19 symptoms, decide to quarantine myself for two weeks, and then return to work. I do not seek a medical diagnosis or the advice of a health care provider. Can I get paid for those two weeks under the FFCRA?
Generally, no. If you become ill with COVID-19 symptoms, you may take paid sick leave under the FFCRA only to seek a medical diagnosis or if a health care provider otherwise advises you to self-quarantine.
May I take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave to care for my child who is 18 years old or older?
This leave may only be taken to care for your non-disabled child if he or she is under the age of 18. If your child is 18 years of age or older with a disability and cannot care for him or herself due to that disability, you may take paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to care for him or her if his or her school or place of care is closed or his or her child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons, and you are unable to work or telework as a result.
If I take paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, does that count against other types of paid sick leave to which I am entitled under State or local law, or my employer’s policy?
No. Paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act is in addition to other leave provided under Federal, State, or local law; an applicable collective bargaining agreement; or your employer’s existing company policy.
How do I count hours worked by a part-time employee for purposes of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?
A part-time employee is entitled to leave for his or her average number of work hours in a two-week period. Therefore, you calculate hours of leave based on the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work. If the normal hours scheduled are unknown, or if the part-time employee’s schedule varies, you may use a six-month average to calculate the average daily hours.
In addition, to the part-time calculation, there is a calculation for seasonal employees in the Question and Answers document.
Does this sound complicated?
Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave often require separate pay classes in order to track them for payroll purposes. Let Time Equipment Company help ease this burden for you. For more information contact Time Equipment Company at 800-977-8463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This document simplifies complex Acts as it is understood by Time Equipment Company. It is not to be taken as legal advice. The regulations for this program are changing. For further information about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) please visit www.dol.com