The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, (the “Act”) has been signed into law. It will go into effect in 15 days, and expire on December 31, 2020.
This is NOT a bill that will provide direct payments to Americans, that would be a third relief bill which has not yet been fully formed or voted on. Things are moving rapidly, and we could have a third relief bill by tomorrow.
This Act covers all public and private employers with under 500 employees. Employers with fewer than 50 employees (and health care providers/first responders) may apply for a hardship exemption (details to be finalized).
For our Washington employers, this is in addition to leave which may already be available.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
- Emergency paid sick leave will be available for employees regardless of tenure, in addition to any other paid leave to which an employee is already entitled. Think of Washington Paid Sick and Safe Time, and Paid Family and Medical Leave.
- As with PFML, employers cannot require employees to use other employer-provided paid leave before taking emergency paid sick leave. So no vacation pay before emergency leave policies.
- Employees are eligible for emergency paid sick leave if they:
- Are subject to a local, federal, or quarantine order;
- Have been advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
- Are experiencing symptoms of and are seeking medical care for symptoms of COVID-19;
- Are caring for an individual for any of the foregoing reasons;
- Are caring for a child whose school has been closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency related to COVID-19 (same as above); or
- Are experiencing any other “substantially similar condition” specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
- Full time employees will be eligible for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, and part-time employees are eligible for a prorated amount based on their average hours worked over a two-week period.
- Employees must be paid their regular rate, up to a maximum of $511 per day and $5,100 total for reasons (1) – (3) above. Employees must be paid 2/3 of their regular rate, up to a maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 total for reasons (4) – (6) above. Employers are entitled to a tax credit in an amount equal to any emergency sick leave wages they are required to pay.
- Employers with fewer than 50 employees may apply for a hardship exemption (the details of which are to be determined through legislative rulemaking).
Emergency Family and Medical Leave
- Employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid emergency family and medical leave under the Act if they have worked for an employer for at least 30 days, and are unable to work or telework because their minor child’s school or daycare is closed due to a public health emergency.
- Note: Both Washington and Oregon have closed public and charter schools due to a public health emergency. Washington has also closed private schools as well. For both states, we expect to see relaxing of rules for providing child care.
- The first 10 days of emergency family and medical leave are unpaid; however, the employee may use any other available paid leave (including the emergency paid sick leave discussed above). After 10 days, employers are required to pay employees at least 2/3 of their regular pay during the leave, up to a maximum of $200/day and $10,000 total. Employers are entitled to a tax credit in an amount equal to any emergency family and medical leave wages they are required to pay.
- There are reinstatement obligations but these may be limited for employers with under 25 employees.
Note that there is a refundable tax credit to employers that will be available to help fund this. Exemption may be available if the business would not be viable by providing. More info to follow.