Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The following information was provided to us from our partners at Geauga JFS.

Families First

Coronavirus Response Act

Quick Answers to Your Questions on Federally Mandated Paid Leave

While final rules should be published by April 2, 2020, here’s what we know thus far:

WHAT IS “FEDERALLY MANDATED PAID LEAVE”?

There are actually TWO aspects of paid leave in the Act.  Both divisions are limited to COVID-19 related leave.

Division C:  Public Health Emergency Leave

Uses the existing Family Medical Leave Act to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of JOB-PROTECTED LEAVE. It provides:

  • 12 weeks of PAID LEAVE to employees unable to work or telework because they must care for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of COVID-19.
    • The first 10 days may be unpaid.
    • Pay for the remaining available leave must be paid at the rate of 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day, capped at a per-employee max of $10,000.
    • For employees whose work was not regular, the employer is required to average the number of hours worked for the 6-month period preceding the leave. The rate should reflect what the employee reasonably should have expected to work.

Division E:  Emergency Paid Leave

The second part of the paid leave provision pertains only to the COVID-19 emergency.  Two (2) WEEKS of PAID SICK LEAVE for an employee who:

  • HAS a current diagnosis of COVID-19, or is under quarantine order by a healthcare provider, employer or a local, State or Federal official; or*
  • has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
  • is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • is caring for an individual who has a current diagnosis of COVID-19 or is under quarantine; or
  • is caring for a child whose school or care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
  • is experiencing any other condition substantially similar to COVID-19, as specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Employees eligible for this leave should be paid their regular wages, capped at $511 per week.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THESE LEAVES?

  • Employees working for employers with LESS THAN 500 employees who have been employed AT LEAST 30 days.
  • Part-time workers.
  • GIG economy workers (Uber, Instacard shoppers) IF they pay taxes.

 ARE ANY EMPLOYERS EXEMPTED?

Employers with less than 50 employees can petition the Department of Labor for exemption, if providing the leave would put them out of business.

HOW CAN SMALL BUSINESS AFFORD THIS?

Employers required to provide paid leave under either Division C or E will be reimbursed the full amount of paid leave, within three (3) months, in the form of a payroll tax credit. The reimbursement will also cover the employer’s payment of health insurance during the leave.

IS THIS FOREVER?

No. It is in response to COVID-19 and expires December 31, 2020.

WHAT ELSE?

  • An employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before using the paid sick time provided under H.R.6201.
  • EMPLOYEE NOTICE. After the first workday (or portion of a day) an employee receives paid sick time, an employer may require the employee to follow “reasonable notice procedures” in order to continue receiving paid sick time.
  • EMPLOYER NOTICE. Employers shall post and keep posted, in conspicuous places, notice of the emergency paid sick time requirements made available under H.R.6201.**
  • NO RETALIATION. Employers may not discharge, discipline, or discriminate against any employee who (a) takes paid sick time, or (b) has filed a complaint or proceeding or testified in any such proceeding related to the benefits and protections provided by H.R.6201. Further, employers may not require, as condition of providing paid sick time, that an employee search for or find a replacement employee to cover the hours during which the employee is using paid sick time.
  • JOB RESTORATION.  Employees taking leave under these provisions are entitled to be restored to the position they held before the leave.
    • Exceptions: Employers with 25 or fewer employees do not need to return the employee to their former position:
      • The position no longer exists due to changes in the employers’ operations that were caused by the COVID-19 emergency
      • The employer made “reasonable efforts” to return the individual to an equivalent position
      • The employer makes “reasonable efforts” to contact the employee when an appropriate position becomes available

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*It is not clear if this is an “OR” or an “AND”. The Act does not specify whether the employee is only entitled to a total of 2 weeks paid leave for any issue arising out of the COVID-19 emergency.

**This will be made available to the Secretary of Labor “7 days” after enactment of the Bill.