With recent shelter-in-place orders being issued statewide, many businesses have closed or greatly reduced hours which greatly impact employees.  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 COVID19 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.  Below are some key items that affect employees:

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

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.

Who can use it?

Employee affected by coronavirus

Employees who are unable to work due to COVID19.

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 COVID19 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.

Does this apply to my employer?

Yes, if your employer has less than 500 employees and if you are not a healthcare provider or emergency responder.  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 minimum length of tenure to be eligible.

Large employers with 500 or more employees are exempt from the act.

Can my employer make me take my vacation before using 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.

Does my Emergency Paid Sick Leave rollover?

No, it does not rollover.

When does this start?

Effective April 2, 2020 through December 31, 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 COVID19 pandemic with an additional federal source of paid leave.  The 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.  Please note that 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 or their “viability”, as well as exemptions for health care providers and emergency responders.

Eligible Leave under the FMLA Expansion Act

Emergency Family Medical Leave

Eligible employees can use up to 12 weeks of leave if they are unable to work (onsite or remote/WFH/Telecommute) because they must care for their child, 17  years of age or younger, whose school was closed due to COVID19 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.

Employees can start applying for this leave effective April 2, 2020.

Employer Coverage for COVID-19 Testing

Employers with sponsored health plans are required to provide COVID-19 testing to all those enrolled and covered by the health plan.  It also requires no copay or cost to the individual for the 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.