5 FFCRA Resources HR and Workplaces Leaders Need to Know
On March 18, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed in response to the spread of COVID-19. The act brings relief to states in need of funds to pay unemployment insurance to claimants. It commits $1 billion to cover the costs of processing and paying unemployment insurance, as well as 100% federal funding for extended benefits.
The FFCRA gives all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while at the same time reimbursing businesses.
On April 1, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the FFCRA.
Summary of How the FFCRA Impacts Paid Leave
- Expands the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) temporarily (through the end of December 2020) to cover leave needed for the care of children out of school because of COVID-19 and also makes weeks 3 - 12 of its effective period Public Health Emergency Leave.
- The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) requires that certain employers provide up to 10 weeks of paid, and 2 weeks unpaid, emergency family and medical leave to eligible employees if the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Mandates two weeks of emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) for employees who need to take leave from work for certain specified reasons related to COVID-19, including:
- the employee or someone the employee is caring for is subject to a government quarantine order or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine;
- the employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical attention; or,
- the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Provides for business relief tax credits related to the paid leave provisions created by the act.
The new regulations apply only to certain covered employers (private employers with fewer than 500 employees, governmental agencies, and schools). These employers would have been required to provide mandated leaves starting on April 1, 2020.
5 COVID-19 Resources for HR and Workplace Leaders
- FFCRA Notice. On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) released the model notice that covered employers must post regarding the FFCRA, along with Frequently Asked Questions regarding the notice requirements. If your team is virtual, you can circulate via email and also on your instant messaging platform. For state posting requirements, visit your State Department of Labor.
- FFCRA FAQs. On March 26, 2020, the DOL issued an update to its frequently asked questions documentation to help employers administer emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and paid FMLA leave (FMLA) as part of the FFCRA. See the FAQ here.
- The Expansion of FMLA. This is temporary (through December 31, 2020) but can be somewhat complicated, as it covers employees with family members who may not have tested positive for COVID-19, but have to self-quarantine due to possible exposure, It also offers guidance on when the covered employee may return to work based on a variety of scenarios. See COVID-19 FMLA resources.
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave. The section of the FFCRA titled the “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act” (EPSLA) applies to all public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. The EPSLA provides covered employees with up to 80 hours (two weeks) of paid leave for certain purposes related to the coronavirus pandemic. Paid sick leave under the EPSLA is in addition to your employee’s other leave entitlements. You may not require your employee to use provided or accrued paid vacation, personal, medical, or sick leave before the paid sick leave. See EPSLA resources. Employers will not be required to bear the costs for this leave; rather, they will be reimbursed through a tax credit (see next item).
- Tax Credits. The FFCRA provides businesses with tax credits to cover certain costs of providing employees with required paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19, from April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. See the IRS guidelines for COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses.
Finally, as the situation with COVID-19 changes and evolves, don’t assume you have the most up-to-date information. Directly source information from the Department of Labor at DOL.gov, as new information is added frequently.