Last Wednesday, the Senate passed and the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”). The Act has undergone revisions regarding the paid sick and family leave programs since the House’s passing of the Act, mostly designed to limit some of the leave provided and capping the paid leave to match the tax credit the employer receives. The Act will go into effect no later than April 2, 2020.
Summary of Key Provisions:
- Paid Family & Medical Leave
The Act amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), to create up to12 weeks of leave for workers that have been employed for at least 30 days for employers with fewer than 500 employees. The leave may be used for employees who are unable to work or telework because they care for children under 18 whose school or childcare is closed or otherwise unavailable due to Coronavirus. The initial 10 days of leave is unpaid, although employees can elect to use any accrued PTO during this time. Thereafter, employers are required to provide paid leave at two-thirds of their normal rate of pay. Paid leave is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 total for each employee. Upon conclusion of the leave, employers must make reasonable efforts to restore the employee to their previous or equivalent position with the same pay and benefits. The Secretary of Labor has the authority to issue regulations to exclude certain health care providers and emergency responders and to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the requirements to provide paid FMLA.
- Paid Sick Leave
The Act requires employers with 499 employees or fewer to temporarily provide up to 10 days of paid sick leave for any employee who is unable to work or telework because:
- The employee is subject to quarantine due to Coronavirus;
- The employee is suffering from the symptoms of Coronavirus and needs medical diagnosis;
- The employee is caring for someone who has Coronavirus or is experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus; or
- The employee is caring for a child whose school or childcare has closed or is unavailable due to Coronavirus.
Paid sick leave is at the employee’s regular rate, capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate, for time off to quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventative care for coronavirus; or paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate, capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate, to care for a family member for such purposes, or to care for a child whose school has closed or child care provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus.
The paid sick leave is in addition to any vacation, PTO or sick leave previously offered by employers. There is also no exemption based on the requirements of the Massachusetts Sick Leave Law. Accordingly, including Massachusetts Sick Leave, employers would now be required to provide up to three weeks of paid sick leave.
Similar to the Massachusetts Sick Leave Law, the bill prohibits employers from requiring a worker to find a replacement to cover their sick leave, and also makes it unlawful to discharge or discriminate against employees for requesting paid sick leave or filing a complaint against their employer regarding the use of paid sick leave. Employers are required to post a notification in the workplace (and presumably email all employees that work from home) in the form approved by the Secretary of Labor, which the Secretary shall create by April 25, 2020.
- Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Family & Medical Leave
The Act continues to provide a refundable tax credit to employers for qualified Sick Leave and Paid FMLA wages paid. The tax credit is allowed against the tax imposed against the employer’s portion of payroll taxes. The tax credits now coincide with the caps on the paid leave so that the employer will be fully reimbursed for all qualified paid leave.
Have a question regarding the Act, Coronavirus compliance or other employment issues? David Robinson, Esq. coordinates Ruberto, Israel & Weiner’s Employment Practice Group and is a member of the Litigation Practice Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @DWRobinsonesq. Lena Finnerty DeLuca, Esq. is a member of the Litigation Practice Group and Employment Practice Group. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This summary is presented for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, nor create an attorney-client relationship. For a full understanding of the issues, please contact counsel of your choice.