Families First Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Act
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides paid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act and paid sick leave for absences resulting from COVID-19.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act Provisions:
The law goes into effect on April 2, 2020, and ends on December 31, 2020. It applies to all employers with 500 employees or less. Employees with 30 days of employment are eligible for benefits.
Emergency FMLA – Job-protected family leave is provided to employees to take care of a child under 18 years of age who is home because their school or daycare has been closed because of COVID-19. The first 10 days of this FMLA leave is unpaid. Thereafter, employees must be paid up to two-thirds of their salary and benefits will vary between full-time and part-time employees. This number is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in total for each employee. Employers with 50 employees or less can apply for an exemption to the law if they can show that paying this benefit would “jeopardize the viability of the business.” Employers with 25 employees or less are exempt if an employee’s position is eliminated due to economic conditions.
Paid Sick Leave – The law provides 80 hours of paid sick leave to full-time employees. Paid sick leave is also available for part-time employees on a pro-rata basis. The leave can be used because an employee has been ordered the government or a health care provided to quarantine if they are seeking medical assistance because of COVID-19 symptoms, if they are taking care of an individual who has been quarantined or ordered to self-quarantine, or if they are taking care of a child whose school or daycare has closed because of COVID-19. Paid sick leave is to be paid at the employee’s salary with the following caps: $200 per day and $2,000 total per employee to care for a child or family member; $511 per day and a total of $5,110 total per employee to care for themselves. Employers with 50 employees or less can apply for an exemption if paying sick leave would “jeopardize the viability of the business.”
Tax Credits – Employers are eligible for reimbursement of 100% of the amount paid under this emergency legislation through tax credits.
More employee benefits are expected to be provided at the state level.
New York has enacted paid sick leave of COVID-19 related absences. The New Jersey Department of Labor posted the following on its COVID-19 website: “Bipartisan federal legislation expected to be signed this week will provide small and mid-sized businesses with 100 percent compensation for providing two weeks of sick leave to employees, along with tax credits for providing up to three months of Paid Family Leave. New Jersey lawmakers are also working on providing robust relief to our valued business community.”