Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): A Complete Guide

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): A Complete Guide

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was proposed and signed into law on March 18, 2020. So far, three Coronavirus stimulus bills have been signed into law and FFCRA is considered as the second major legislative initiative designed to address the crisis due to COVID-19.

According to veteran and experienced employment lawyers MA, FFCRA, effective April 1 through December 31, 2020, is aimed at addressing the impact of COVID-19 on the domestic front by providing

  • expanded nutrition assistance,
  • paid sick leave,
  • enhanced employment insurance coverage,
  • free Coronavirus testing, and
  • increased Federal Medical aid and funding.

The two primary provisions of the FFCRA are Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). Unfortunately, employers may decide not to pay employees who are healthcare providers or emergency responders under both EPSLA and EFMLEA.

However, the employers do have obligations to other categories of employees. To receive either EPSL or EFMLEA, an employee must provide (either orally or in writing) with the following documentation –

  • Employee’s name
  • Date(s) of the requested leave
  • Reason for the leave
  • A statement that the employee is unable to work because of the stated reason

Who’s Eligible for FFCRA?

Private Sector Employers having fewer than 500 employees are eligible, including non-profit organizations. Small businesses having fewer than 50 employees may be exempted from some of the requirements if complying jeopardize the business. Public agencies are also eligible, immaterial of the number of employees. Federal Government employees do not qualify under this act.

 

Who Qualifies for EPSL and Under What Circumstance?

If an employee fails to perform her/his duties, either in-person or remotely, due to the following reasons, then she/he is titled to EPSL, irrespective of how long she/ he has worked for the organization.

  • She/he is in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. However, there must be a relevant document supporting the cause.

 

  • She/he has been instructed by a doctor or healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns (documentation indicating the name of the health care provider is required).

 

  • She/he is suffering from COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis from healthcare professionals.

 

  • She/he needs to take care of an individual, currently under Federal, State, or local quarantine order due to COVID-19, or of an individual whose healthcare provider has advised self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.

 

  • She/ he needs to take care of his/her child whose school or childcare provider is closed due to COVID-19. However, proper documentation must be there citing the name of the child, name of the school/caregiver/place of care, and a statement that no other person is available to care of the child.

What are Employees Entitled to?

Here’s what the employers are entitled to under this act –

 

  • She/ he is eligible for two weeks, up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at her/ his pay, if she/he is unable to work because of being quarantined or due to COVID-19 symptoms.

 

  • She/he will be entitled to get two weeks, which is up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds of the regular pay because she/he has to care for someone who is in quarantine or to care for a child whose school or child care is closed due to this pandemic.

 

  • She/he is entitled to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave, paid at two-third the regular rate, if she/he has been on the job for 30+ days.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

Under the newly enacted FFCRA, employees compelled to take care of their children because their school, child care provider, and or place of care is closed due to COVID-19, are entitled to extended family leave. However, an employee must have worked for the employer for 30+ days.

This extended family medical leave entitles the eligible employees to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave. The first 10 days are unpaid; however, the remaining 10 weeks are paid at two-thirds of the employee’s wage rate. Employees are also entitled to use EPSL to cover the 10 days of EFMLEA, which is otherwise unpaid.

Small Business Exemptions to the EPSL and EFMLEA Requirements

A few categories of businesses are exempted from providing EPSL and EFMLEA to employees seeking leave to care for a child since their school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.

Veteran employment lawyers MA believe that this exemption is provided to secure small businesses from the threat of lack of employees. The law states that if providing such leave affects the operations of the business, the company has the power not to abide by this act.

To avail this exemption, the company must abide by the following and produce documents supporting the cause.

  • The leave requested would lead to expenses and financial obligations exceeding the available business revenues.
  • The absence of the employee requesting a leave would lead to a substantial risk to the business’ financial stability or operational capacity.
  • The business lacks sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who’ll be available at the time and place needed, to perform the duties. Also, their services are necessary for the business to operate at a minimal capacity.

 

Employers Can Receive Tax Credits for Providing EPSL and EFMLEA

Employers providing EPSL and EFMLEA are eligible to claim tax credits while filing Federal employment tax returns. However, they need to consult an accountant to identify the appropriate forms and codes required to receive immediate tax benefits from the credit.

Consequences for Employers Failing to Abide by FFCRA

As per the law, employers who fail to abide by FFCRA will be considered as violators of Section 6 of the Fair Labor Standards Act. They may be obliged to do the following –

  • Make payment to the employee of their unpaid wages.
  • An additional amount equal to the unpaid wages in the form of liquidated damages (subject to enforcement proceedings by the Department of Labor as proscribed by U.S.C. § § 206, 216, 217)
  • Additional penalties for unlawful termination and/ or retaliation (under 29 U.S.C. §§ 216, 217); and
  • Attorney’s fees.

 

So, here was a complete guide on FFCRA. Don’t forget to share what you think about the act in the comment section.