New Employee Leave under the FFCRA

 

On March 18, 2020 President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law.  The new law included two significant leave program provisions going into place for 2020 due to the current pandemic.  This exhibit includes information about the new leave provisions along with information about how they interact with the current Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The Original Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

As a federal policy, FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year.  It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.  The law is applicable to employers with 50+ employees, and is in place for individuals that have been employed for at least 12 months prior to the leave and have worked at least 1,250 hours during that time.  FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take unpaid leave for any of the following reasons:

  • For the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
  • For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for an immediate family member (i.e., spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
  • For qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that an employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or call to covered active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces.

Many states have added paid requirements and other rules in addition to the Federal FMLA rules.

Leave under Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) has added two different leave policies for this specific crisis. The new policy impacts public employers as well as private employers with fewer than 500 employees. The Act requires applicable employers to provide paid sick leave as well as paid expanded family and medical leave. The new rules apply for effective dates from 4/1/2020, through 12/31/2020.

The first two items below encompass the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) and must be provided to all employees:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and

Paid sick leave under the EPSLA is in addition to the 12 weeks of leave required under the original FMLA.

The final item below is the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”), which applies for employees that have worked for at least 30 calendar days:

  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

The “EFMLEA” amends the original FMLA and employers violating its provisions are subject to the enforcement of the original FMLA, but the leave under the EFMLEA is not in addition to the standard FMLA.

 

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Our health and welfare compliance updates are designed to provide useful information to organizations about the operation and management of their employee benefit plans. Although we go to great lengths to ensure that only accurate and timely information is provided, we recommend that you consult with an attorney for professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for your particular situation. Nothing provided herein should be construed as legal or tax advice.