Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a federal law that establishes certain paid benefits to help employees cope with changes in their lives brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The act, which went into effect on April 1, 2020, applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees as well as public sector employers with one or more employees. The law establishes a federal paid sick leave requirement for coronavirus-related needs and expands the Family and Medical Leave Act to include a paid leave component for employees caring for a dependent child under the age of 18 whose school or child care facility is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons. These provisions apply from April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave1
Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for emergency paid sick leave if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to one the following qualifying reasons:
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 has limited the employee's ability to travel;
- The employee has been advised by a health-care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- The employee is experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and is in the process of determining whether he or she has contracted the virus;
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order for COVID-19 or whose health-care provider advised that person to self-quarantine because of COVID-19;
- The employee needs to care for his or her child because of the closure of the child's school or child-care facility, or the unavailability of a child-care provider, because of COVID-19 considerations;
- The employee is experiencing a situation that was specified by the Department of Health and Human Services as substantially similar to any of the five aforementioned situations.
There is no waiting period for an employee to utilize the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Full-time employees will be allowed up to two weeks (75 hours / 80 hours) of paid sick leave. Part-time employees' paid sick time will be based upon the average number of hours they ordinarily scheduled to work in a 2-week period. Hours not used in 2020 cannot be carried over into 2021.
- Employees unable to work due to reasons 1-4 & 6 (listed above), are currently eligible to be paid their regular hourly rate.
- Employees unable to work for qualifying reason #5, are currently eligible to be paid their regular hourly rate. They may receive up to 12 weeks of combined paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid. However, employees may elect to reserve the 2 weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave to use at a later date.
Expanded Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act2
Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) traditionally has provided unpaid leave for qualifying circumstances, the FFCRA amended the FMLA to add a paid-leave requirement related to COVID-19. This new type of leave is for employees who need to care for their children during the pandemic and is referred to in the FFCRA as public health emergency leave. The period of public health emergency leave is for up to the remainder of the 12 weeks of FMLA entitlement. This benefit is available from April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
Typically, employees that are eligible for FMLA are those that have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and performed at least 1,250 hours of work in the past 12 months. However, the public health emergency leave is available to employees who have worked for their employer for at least 30 days, regardless of how many hours of work they performed.
To be eligible for the Expanded Family and Medical Leave, employees generally would need to show that they are unable to work in-person or telework due to the need to care for their own son or daughter under 18 years old due to coronavirus-related loss of access to educational or childcare facilities.
Currently, the amount of the FMLA paid-leave component is based on 100% of their regular rate of hourly pay. The amount is calculated as follows: the hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours the employee normally would have been scheduled to work. There is a 10 day waiting period before an employee is eligible for the paid-leave component of the Expanded FMLA. However, employees may elect to utilize the Emergency Paid Sick Leave to cover the wait period. Please note that the first two weeks of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave may count against their FMLA entitlement if the employee elects to continue with the Expanded Medical Leave Act.
How to request a Paid Sick Leave and/or Expanded Family and Medical Leave due to the above 6 qualifying reasons related to COVID-19
FMLASource will administer both the emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave on behalf of WSU. Please reach out to FMLASource directly to request an Emergency Paid Sick Leave and/or Expanded Family and Medical Leave.
FMLASource Contact Information:
U.S. Department of Labor Resources: