ADLI Attorney Ben Jakovljevic Provides Updates for Employers Regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
By now it is no secret that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is rapidly affecting many aspects of our lives. One consequence has come in the form of recent legislation enacted by the United States for protecting employees across the country.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides that covered employers must provide expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19. Significantly, private employers with fewer than 500 employees are considered covered employers.
The Act provides up to 80 hours of leave where the employee is unable to work. The Act provides those 80 hours to be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay if: the employee is under quarantine, or if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. The amount of pay is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.
Alternatively, the Act provides those 80 hours of leave to be paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay if: the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or because of child care needs because that child’s school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to the public health emergency. The amount of pay is capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.
In addition to the above, the Act requires a covered employer to provide up to an additional 10 weeks of leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because they must care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or care center has closed because of COVID-19. The amount of pay is capped at $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate. To qualify for this additional leave, the employee must have worked for the employer for 30 days or more, and must be unable to telework.
Employers with less than 50 employees may qualify for exemption with the child-care-based provisions if the cost of imposing the leave requirements would jeopardize the business.
Other sections of the Act require private health plans that provide coverage for COVID-19 testing and related services, as well as refundable tax credits for employers whose costs relating to leave exceed the taxes they would owe.
The Act is expected to take effect no later than April 2, 2020 and continuing to December 31, 2020. We expect that new guidance will be issued in the coming days, weeks, and months by governmental bodies. We will strive to periodically supplement this update with the key points affecting our clients, but this is only a summary and we encourage employers to reach out to us with specific concerns.
This is an unprecedented pandemic, and employers should be responsive and responsible to survive and ultimately thrive. This is a time to stay informed without being inundated, to be measured and not manic, and to act safely and with purpose. Ultimately, we are all in this together, and the ADLI team is here to help you with the employment and other legal needs of your business. Please do not hesitate to reach out and see how ADLI can help.
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Written by Ben Jakovljevic. Tuesday, March 24, 2020.