With recent shelter-in-place orders being issued statewide, many businesses have closed, reduced hours, or transitioned to remote work. The HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act was introduced on March 14, 2020 and was signed into law on March 18, 2020.

HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The act provides funding for free COVID-19 testing and a fourteen day paid leave for US workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, increased funding for food stamps, expanded FMLA provisions, and additional funding to states.  In addition, there are additional requirements for employers such as the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and posting requirements.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

Does this apply to my Business?

Yes, if your business has less than 500 employees and you do not employ healthcare providers or emergency responders.  Employers with less than five hundred employees are required to offer employees Emergency Paid Sick Leave.  Employee count will be based on all site locations, not just headquarters or home office.  There is no minimum length of tenure for employees to be eligible.

Which employees are eligible and what is required?

Employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19. Full time employees are eligible for 80 hours of paid sick time.  Part time employees are eligible for the average equivalent of hours worked during a 2 week period.

Employees can use Emergency Paid Sick Leave if they are quarantined, a doctor advises self-quarantine, or is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and is awaiting test results or a diagnosis.  Leave paid at regular rate of pay – not to exceed $5000 or $511 per day.

Employee is caring for someone under quarantine, medical self-quarantine. Leave paid at regular rate of pay – not to exceed $5000 or $511 per day.

Employee caring for their child who’s school is closed or is not available as a result of COVID-19 social distancing measures.  Leave paid at 2/3 regular rate of pay – not to exceed $2000 or $200 per day.

Other conditions will be assessed and clarified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  If eligible, leave paid at 2/3 regular rate of pay – not to exceed $2000 or $200 per day.

Can my business write this off?

Businesses will receive refundable tax credits against the employer portion of the Social Security taxes for all of the wages paid for qualified sick and family leave wages paid in accordance with the act.

Can I ask my employee to use their vacation time before using their Emergency Paid Sick Leave?

No, an employer cannot require eligible employees to take other paid leave before taking Emergency Paid Sick Leave.  Other paid leave includes paid time off (PTO), paid sick leave, paid vacation, or paid personal leave.  The Emergency Paid Sick Leave is in addition to any paid leave that the business already offers.

Does Emergency Paid Sick Leave rollover?

No, it does not roll over.

When does this start?

Effective April 2, 2020 through December 31, 2020

Are there any Posting Requirements?

Yes, businesses must post a notice that advises their employees of their rights under the act by Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

FMLA Expansion Act

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act also known as the FMLA Expansion Act provides employees affected by their child’s school being closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic with an additional federal source of paid leave and can start applying on April 2, 2020.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act broadened the definition of employers to include all employers with less than 500 employees to any employee who has worked for at least 30 days.

Exemptions may be made by the Secretary of Labor to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if it would jeopardize the business’s ability to survive, health care providers and emergency responders.

Eligible Leave

Eligible employees can use up to 12 weeks of leave if they are unable to work (onsite or remote) because they must care for their child, 17 and under, whose school was closed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The first 10 days of leave are unpaid.  Remaining days are paid at  2/3 regular rate at a max of $10,000 or $200 per day.

Employer Coverage for COVID-19 Testing

Employer sponsored health plans are required to provide COVID-19 testing to all enrolled and covered by the health plan and require no copay or cost to the individual for testing.  This does not include covering the cost of treatment for those diagnosed and are not required to be free of cost to the individual