Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Summary For Employers

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  As particularly relevant to employers, the Act contains two sections regarding leave employees may be entitled to in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both sections will become effective on April 2, 2020, and they overlap in certain areas.  Employers need to be sure to take appropriate steps to comply in advance.  A very brief summary of each section follows.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”)

  • Provides up to 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
    • Only applies where an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for a minor child if the child’s school or place of childcare has been closed or is unavailable due to a public health emergency
  • Applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees and public-sector employers
  • Applies to employees who have been on the payroll for 30 calendar days
  • First 10 days of EFMLEA leave is unpaid
    • Employee can choose, however, to substitute accrued vacation, personal, or sick leave during the first 10 days, but employers cannot require an employee to do so
    • Employee can choose to apply EPSLA (paid sick leave) to the first 10 days of unpaid leave under EFMLEA, if he/she qualifies
  • Remaining 10 weeks of EFMLEA leave generally paid at 2/3 of employee’s regular rate
    • Limits pay to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate
  • Leave is job-protected, except for employers with fewer than 25 employees, but only if certain conditions are met
  • Secretary of Labor can provide exclusions
  • Employers can exclude employees that are healthcare providers or emergency responders
  • Continues through December 31, 2020

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”)

  • Provides up to 80 hours of paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or telework) because:
    • (1) The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
    • (2) The employee has been advised by a healthcare professional to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
    • (3) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
    • (4) The employee is caring for an individual subject to or advised to quarantine or self-isolate under sections (1) or (2);
    • (5) The employee is caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or
    • (6) The employee is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury
  • Applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees and public-sector employers
  • Employees are immediately eligible for leave
  • Secretary of Labor has 15 days (until April 2) to specify how to calculate number of hours of eligibility for paid leave
  • Limits paid leave to $511 per day ($5,110 in the aggregate) when leave is taken for reasons (1), (2), or (3) (generally, employee’s own illness or quarantine), and $200 per day ($2,000 in the aggregate) if leave is taken for reasons (4), (5), and (6) (care for others or school closures)
    • If leave is for reasons (4), (5), and (6), pay is limited to 2/3 of the greatest of certain wage levels as specified in the Act
  • Employers cannot require employees to use other paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the paid EPSLA leave
  • Secretary of Labor can provide exclusions and issue guidance on relationship between EFMLEA and EPSLA
    • Secretary of Labor will also provide a model notice form by March 25, 2020, which must be posted in a conspicuous place
  • Employers can exclude employees that are healthcare providers or emergency responders
  • Continues through December 31, 2020

If you have questions the Response Act, please contact a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group.

Gust Callas, Chair

Members of the Labor and Employment Group
Gust Callas, Brian Mertes, Whitney Willits, Jim Wherley and Ryan Robinson