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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)​

March 23, 2020

On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) was signed into law, marking the second major legislative initiative to address COVID-19 (the first was signed on March 6 and provided emergency funding relief for domestic and global efforts). The Act takes effect on April 2, 2020 and has several provisions that address the domestic outbreak. In this communication we will focus on the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”).

Important Note: The Department of Labor and the Treasury will need to issue regulations on how the provisions in this bill will be administered and interpreted.  This will take some period of time.  One key question is how exactly businesses will get the credits in the bill as well as the timing. Another is what businesses may ultimately be exempt from these acts, as it currently applies to those with fewer than 50 employees.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act covers employees that are unable to work due to a need for leave in order to care for their child because the school or day care has been closed.

Key Provisions: 

  • Employers will be allowed a payroll tax credit to help offset the cost. The Treasury will have to issue detailed regulations on how this will be administered.
  • Provides for 12 weeks leave with job protection.
  • The leave can be unpaid for the first 10 days, a waiting period.  However, employees may use other leave available to them.
  • After ten days, the employee should be paid at 2/3 their regular rate for the number of hours they would normally be scheduled to work.  Compensation is capped at $200/day and $10,000 total.
  • Under current law, the benefits are not retroactive but legislation could change this at any time.
  • Employees must have worked for the employer for at least 30 days.
  • Applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees and employees who are health care providers or emergency responders can be excluded.  However, authority is given to the Secretary of Labor to exclude certain health care providers or emergency responders from the definition of eligible employees and to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if compliance with the requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act covers employees who are quarantined or seeking care for COVID-19.

Key Provisions: 

  • Employers will be allowed a payroll tax credit to offset certain of these costs.  Guidance on how this credit will be applied is still pending.
  • Full time employees get 80 hours:
    • Full pay if they have been told to self-quarantine, are seeking diagnosis for symptoms of COVID-19 or are subject to a federal, state or local quarantine/isolation order. At this time it is unclear if shelter-in-place orders qualify for this.
    • Two-thirds pay if the leave is to care for an individual who has been told to self-quarantine or is following a government isolation order.
  • Part time Employees get the average number of hours worked over a two-week period.
  • Compensation is capped:
    • $500/day and $5,110 total if leave is under physician order to self-quarantine, are seeking diagnosis for symptoms of COVID-19 or are subject to a federal, state or local quarantine/isolation order.
    • $200/day and $2,000 total if leave is to care for an individual who has been told to self-quarantine or is following a government isolation order.
  • Under current law the benefits are not retroactive.
  • Applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Covers all employees regardless of length of employment.
  • Employees who are health care providers or emergency responders can be excluded.
  • No waiting period.
  • An employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave such as paid-time-off before the employee uses the paid sick time provided under this Act.
  • Authority is given to the Secretary of Labor to exclude certain health care providers or emergency responders from the definition of eligible employees and to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if compliance with the requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.  Note – this will need to be defined through regulations.

Resources Related to H.R. 6201

Return to COVID-19 Response & Resources

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