What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

President Trump recently signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18th, which will become law on April 2, 2020. The law creates paid emergency leave/sick leave for employees who must self-quarantine or self-isolate due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. The following provides helpful information regarding how your business should respond.

Paid Emergency FMLA

Employees are allowed Paid Emergency FMLA § 102(a)(1)(F) under this law. Your business must provide leave to your employees according to the following guidelines:

  • Employees receive their first 14 days off at their regular pay rate. Your employees, however, have the option to exhaust their paid time off (PTO) first. Once their PTO is exhausted, they will receive 14 more days of leave at their regular rate.
  • Employees may receive up to 10 additional weeks of leave paid at two-thirds their regular rate.

Your business may be exempt if you have less than 25 employees and if paying for said leave would strain your business financially.

How Do Your Employees Qualify?

Your employees qualify for emergency paid leave compensation when they:

  • Must stay home to comply with a local or statewide mandate or the recommendation of a public health official because the employee cannot do their job if they were exposed or would jeopardize the health of others by coming to work.
  • Must stay home to care for a family member because that family member cannot perform their job duties without jeopardizing the health of the community.
  • Must stay home to care for a child whose school or daycare was closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What About Emergency Paid Sick Leave?

Your employees may be entitled to emergency paid sick leave if they miss work for any of the following reasons:

  • They must self-quarantine or seek a diagnosis/preventative treatment due to symptoms of COVID-19.
  • They must self-quarantine or seek treatment due to an order by a public health official or the state/local government.
  • They must care for an at-risk family member who has been quarantined because of a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • To care for a child if that child’s daycare or school has been closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The law creates guidelines that require you to offer two weeks of paid sick leave to all employees who cannot come to work. You are required to pay the employee’s regular rate for the first two weeks if the employee:

  • Must self-quarantine because they were diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Must comply with a federal or local mandate to self-quarantine.

You will pay two-thirds the employee’s regular rate if they:

  • Must stay home to care for an at-risk family member.
  • Must care for their child because the school or daycare is closed.

Paid sick leave will be administered by the Social Security Administration.

What the Employer Cannot Do

Under this legislation, an employer cannot:

  • Change paid leave policies to circumvent this new law or defray the costs involved
  • Require employees to use paid leave before using their emergency paid sick leave allotment
  • Require employees to find someone to cover their shift.

If we work together to protect ourselves and our employees, we can stop the spread of COVID-19. Our legal team at MacMain Leinhauser can help your company understand the laws evolving around the COVID-19 outbreak. Contact us online or call us at 484-318-7106 for more information. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County, as well as in New Jersey.