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What the First Corona Virus Bill Means

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201 aka FFCRA) to assist in providing immediate and fast relief to the employers and individuals affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. As a business owner, it’s important that you know the facts behind this law, and not the misinformation that some sources are putting out there.

We have fielded several questions already and in this article we hope to provide you with information that you can use to make the best decisions you can for your company and your future. We’re going to discuss the new law and some of the benefits it has created for you and for your employees.

If you recall past tax and employer relief legislation (or even broader laws like the Patriot Act) then we’re sure you can appreciate that this legislation will have many intended and unintended consequences. As we move forward we and other attorneys will see and make some important decisions and recommendations on the effects of the law.

We’re going to break down an analysis of the law as it is currently being presented by our lawmakers and we’ll try to point out a couple of the areas we think it will have some of those unintended results.

A Quick Look at The Family First Coronavirus Act

Provision FMLA EFMLEA
Covered Employer
  • Public Agencies
  • Private employers with 50 or more
    employees
  • Public Agencies
  • Private employers with less
    than 500 employees
Eligible Employee
  • Employee for at least 12 months
    and for at least 1,250 hours during
    the previous 12-month period
  • Employee has been employed
    for at least 30 days
Total Leave Time Allowed
  • 12 weeks
  • 12 weeks
    *this is not an extension to the
    original 12-week maximum
Covered Reasons
  • For the birth and care of the newborn
    child of an employee
  • For the placement of an employee
    of a child for adoption or foster care
  • To care for an immediate family
    member (child, spouse, parent) with a
    serious medical condition
  • Medical leave when the employee
    is unable to work because of a
    serious health condition
  • To care for a minor child if
    their school or care facility
    has been closed due to a
    COVID-19 related to public health
    crisis, but only if telework is not
    an option
Paid v. Unpaid
  • Unpaid
  • First 10 days (2 weeks) Unpaid
  • All subsequent time (10 weeks)
    Paid at 2/3 the employee’s regular
    rate of pay for the covered reasons
    stated above related to child care
Payment Caps
  • N/A
  • $200/day and $10,000 total
Job Protected
  • Yes, with the exception for certain
    highly compensated employees
  • Yes with limited exceptions
    *Job protection does not apply to
    employers of less than 25 employees
    if position no longer exists upon
    their return to work due to
    economic challenges caused by
    the coronavirus emergency and
    the employer has made reasonable
    efforts to restore the employee to
    an equivalent position

The Family First Coronavirus Act and Paid Sick Time

Starting on April 3, 2020 (or before depending on the laws of your state) and continuing through December 31, 2020*, all employers with fewer than 500 employees, including government employers and agencies, will be required to provide paid sick leave to any employees who are unable to work or telecommute. The current reading of the legislation employers must provide two (2) weeks of paid sick leave for any of the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or Local Government-mandated quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19
  • The employee has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis
  • the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
  • The employee is caring for their child, their child’s school or their child’s care facility has been closed or is unavailable due to precautions being taken around COVID-19
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary or Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor

In other, simpler words, if you have employees that are in any area affected by COVID-19 (which at this point includes every state in the U.S.) then your employees may have the right to collect paid sick leave now or at some point soon.

*Congress may choose to extend this date

The Family First Coronavirus Act and Paid Family Leave

Under the new Act, and in the same timeline as stated above, all employers with fewer than 500 employees, including government employers and agencies, will be required to provide paid twelve (12) weeks of employer-paid family leave for any employee who has worked for that company for more than 30 days. That employee only qualifies if they are unable to work or telework because they need to care for a child under 18 years old due to school closure, child care closure, or unavailability of child care due to a COVID-19 emergency declared by any governmental authority.

The Family First Coronavirus Act and Credits for Employers and the Self-Employed

Fortunately for employers, there is some relief available for the burden of paying your employees while they’re unable to work. Employers who pay these benefits may claim credits against their FICA taxes for the gross amount of sick and family leave paid from the benefits above. The Credit will come out of the quarterly return filed by business owners.

Anyone who is self-employed can also file for assistance through the act. This could be helpful for those who run their own companies and will miss work due to their child’s being at home due to the virus.