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Family's First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Posted by Heather C. Barden | May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The FFCRA is an expansion of the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The FFCRA is in effect from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The new FFCRA law applies to employers with 500 or less employees

There are two subparts to the FFCRA. 

1. Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL); and

2. Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL).

Note: A smaller employer with less than 50 employees may be exempt from being required to provide the leave under FFCRA. 

Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL):
  • Provides leave for employees that have been on payroll for at least 30 days;
  • Twelve (12) weeks of protected leave at the rate of two-thirds (2/3) the employee's usual pay, if the employee is unable to telework based on the need to care for a child under the age of 18 due to closure of the child's school; or unavailability of the child's usual childcare;
  • As an employee you may elect (or the employer may require) to supplement the two-thirds (2/3) pay allowed under PHEL with leave available under existing policies.

Note: "Under the FFCRA, a “son or daughter” is your own child, which includes your biological, adopted, or foster child, your stepchild, a legal ward, or a child for whom you are standing in loco parentis—someone with day-to-day responsibilities to care for or financially support a child." See Department of Labor Pandemic Questions

Note: The first 10 days of PHEL is unpaid; however, your employer must allow you to use accrued leave, if available. The employee may also use the 10 days they are entitled to under Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL, discussed below) to cover the first 10 days that are not covered under PHEL.

Note: Paid leave under PHEL is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate for the 12 weeks of leave.

Note: If an employee uses the full twelve (12) weeks for PHEL leave, this would also extinguish the twelve (12) weeks allotted under FMLA. Meaning, an employee would not be eligible for any additional leave under FMLA until they meet the criteria required under FMLA (e.g., worked 1,250 hours in the last 12 months, been employed for at least 12 months with employer, and have a qualifying event).

Qualifying reasons for PHEL:

  • In order to qualify for the leave as a "public health emergency," a federal, state, or local authority must have declared an emergency in relation to COVID-19 (aka the Coronavirus); and
  • The employee must provide documentation to their employer supporting that they cannot work due to a child's school or childcare closure. This includes: the child's name, the name of the school or childcare provider, and representation that no other suitable person can provide childcare.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)
  • Provides leave for up to 10 days for certain coronavirus related reasons:
    • a federal, state, or local authority issues a "shelter-in-place," "stay-at-home," or the like. 
    • as an employee you have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
    • as an employee you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis
    • to care for an individual who is self-isolating related to COVID-19 
    • to care for a child under 18 due to closure of the child's school or childcare

Benefits for EPSL

As an employee you will receive your regular rate of pay (i.e. full-time, part-time status, or based on an average over two weeks) if:

  1. The leave is related to a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order. Note: If your employer provides an essential service and/or you are able to telework (work remotely) your would NOT be entitled to EPSL;
  2. You have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19; and
  3. You are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis.

Note: regular rate of pay is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for the 10 days of leave

As as an employee you will receive two-thirds (2/3) of your regular rate of pay if:

  1. Your leave is related to care of an individual who is self-isolating due to COVID-19 or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  2. Because your child's school or childcare is closed.

Note: two-thirds pay (2/3) is capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for the 10 days of leave.

For further questions or if you need legal assistance, please contact us.

About the Author

Heather C. Barden

I represent individuals who have been wronged by their employer. The cases I work on involve situations when the employer has engaged in an illegal act based on an employee's sex, gender, age, disability, need for accommodation, pregnancy, military status, marital status, religion, need to breastfeed, and need for medical leave. Frequently these cases involve conduct by the employer that includes discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate, medical leave violations, and/or sexual harassment.

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