Congress enacts Family First Coronavirus Response Act

by <a href="mailto:candiceb@awcnet.org">Candice Bock</a> | Mar 25, 2020
Last week Congress adopted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA, also referred to as H.R. 6201).

Last week Congress adopted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA, also referred to as H.R. 6201). Part of the act provides federally mandated emergency paid sick leave and expands the existing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide relief to workers impacted by the coronavirus emergency. The FFRCA takes effect on April 2.

Emergency paid sick leave

Municipalities must provide employees who cannot work or telework (can exclude health care providers and emergency responders) with paid sick leave if the employee is:

  1. Subject to a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation order;
  2. Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  3. Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. Caring for an individual described in the first two bullets above; and/or
  5. Caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or the childcare provider of the child is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.

 

  • Full-time employees shall receive 80 hours of sick leave, and part-time workers are granted leave equivalent to their average hours worked in a two-week period, with the sick leave in either instance being available for immediate use regardless of the employee’s tenure at the employer.
  • Paid sick leave will not carry over from year to year. The new law expires December 31, 2020.
  • Workers taking leave for themselves will have to be paid at least their normal wage or the applicable federal, state, or local minimum wage, whichever is greater (see bullets 1-3 above).
  • Workers taking time off to care for family members must be paid at two-thirds of the foregoing rate (see bullets 4 and 5 above).
  • Sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for leave taken in bullets 1 through 3 above.
  • Sick leave is capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for leave taken in bullets 4 through 5 above.
  • Wages required to be paid under the emergency sick leave provisions will NOT be subject to the 6.2% social security payroll tax typically paid by employers on employees’ wages.
  • Employers with existing paid leave policies will be required to provide workers with the sick leave under this emergency program. An employer cannot require a worker to use any other available paid leave before using the sick leave.

FMLA/Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)

Expands FMLA covered leave to include:

  • Up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for employees (can exclude health care providers and emergency responders) who have been on the job for at least 30 days, and who are unable to work or telework because they have to care for a minor child if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or if the child care provider of that child is unavailable due to a COVID-19 emergency.
  • The first 10 days of leave can be unpaid (a worker could opt to use accrued vacation days or other available paid leave for those days).
  • For subsequent days of leave, workers will receive a benefit from their employers equal to at least two-thirds of their normal pay rate.
  • The paid leave is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
  • These provisions expire December 31, 2020.

The National League of Cities published an FAQ providing detailed information regarding the impact of the bill on cities. Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives distributed a fact sheet and title-by-title summary for H.R. 6201.

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