Several different forms of legislation have been passed in the last few months to tackle the ongoing economic issues stemming from the global pandemic. One of these pieces of legislation is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
What Is the FFCRA?
The FFCRA temporarily expands paid leave options employers must offer. Both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) are part of the FFCRA.
The FFCRA was put in place to address the major conundrums parents may have regarding how to take care of children who may not have open schools to attend, as well as a lack of available childcare facilities to utilize.
It also tackles the idea that many people do not have enough paid time off from work and are faced with an impossible decision should they need to care for a sick child right now. The thought behind this legislation is to combat COVID-19 by helping people stay home from work when appropriate.
FFCRA and the EPSLA
Here’s what the FFCRA provides under the EPSLA portion. Employers with fewer than 500 total employees temporarily must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave (at full pay) for any employee who is either experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and getting a medical diagnosis or quarantined due to COVID-19.
Employers must also provide up to 2 weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds his or her regular pay if the employee needs to care for someone who is quarantined or to care for a child whose regular care provider or school is closed due to COVID-19. These 2-week provisions are not cumulative, but any of the above reasons can be utilized.
FFCRA and the EFMLEA
Here’s what the FFCRA provides under the EFMLEA. Employers must also provide up to 10 weeks (beyond the 2 weeks above) of paid family and medical leave for employees at two-thirds their regular pay for situations in which an employee has to care for a child whose regular care provider or school is closed due to COVID-19.
The difference here is that this expansion is only required for employees who have been with the employer for at least 30 days. (Employees covered here do not need to meet the other regular Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave requirements.)
The primary exception to this temporary paid leave mandate is for employers that have fewer than 50 employees and for which providing such leave would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”
These temporary expansions to paid leave are covered by employers, but the FFCRA has a provision to reimburse employers in the form of tax credits for the wage costs incurred. This should minimize the burden for employers. Employers will receive a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement in the form of tax credits (up to the maximums detailed in the legislation) for the wages paid to employees who need to take either of these paid leave options.
As of the time of the legislation (April 2020), the temporary leave provisions were set to be in place until the end of calendar year 2020.
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.