Families First Coronavirus Response Act
What you need to know
Congress’ new law, H.R. 6201, entitled the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was signed by the President on March 18, 2020 and becomes effective on April 2, 2020. While the Act provides many important components including free coronavirus testing, this summary shall focus only on the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act:
Congress expanded the long-established Family and Medical Leave Act as follows:
- Family and Medical Leave Act is expanded by the Act to apply to any employer with less than 500 employees.
- The Act provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave time, with the first two weeks being unpaid in accordance with the following:
- If an employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age if that child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency.
- A Public Health emergency under the Act is defined to mean “an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a Federal, State or local authority.”
- Following the first two unpaid weeks, the employee shall receive pay in an amount not less than two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay.
- An employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave or medical or sick leave for the unpaid sick leave for the first two weeks.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act:
Congress also passed the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act which becomes effective 15 days after enactment, which is April 2, 2020:
An employer, employing less than 500 employees, shall provide to each employee paid sick time if that employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave because:
- The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in subparagraph (2);
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions;
- The employee is 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.
If an employee qualifies for paid sick leave under one of the above enumerated instances, then such employee shall be entitled to paid sick time as follows:
- Full-time employee: 80 hours
- Part-time: a number of hours equal to the number of hours that such employee works, on average, over a two-week period.
The paid sick time is at that employee’s full/regular pay rate.
Importantly, an employer may not require an employee to use any other paid leave provided by the employer to the employee before the employee uses the paid sick leave as described above.
Furthermore, it shall be unlawful for any employer to discharge, discipline, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee who takes leave in accordance with this Act, or has filed a complaint or caused a proceeding to be instituted relating to his act or has testified about to testify regarding this Act in any proceedings.
For the full text of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, click here: https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hr6201/BILLS-116hr6201enr.pdf
For more information, please contact Erin M. Tyreman.