The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law on Wednesday, March 18, goes into effect on April 2 and focuses on emergency paid sick leave and expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave provisions affect employers with fewer than 500 employees. All such employees, regardless of their tenure with their employer, are eligible for paid sick leave if they cannot work (including remotely) because they are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19; their healthcare provider advised self-quarantine; they are seeking a diagnosis after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; they are caring for someone subject to quarantine; they are caring for their child for whom school or caregiving locations are closed; and a sort of “catchall” provision to be clarified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Full-time employees receive 80 hours of paid sick leave; part-time employees receive the equivalent of the number of hours they would ordinarily work during a two-week period. For leave due to the above reasons regarding the employee’s own health, eligible employees would receive paid sick leave at their usual rate, capped at $511 per day and $5,110 total. For the other qualifying reasons, the rate is two-thirds their regular rate of pay, capped at $200 per day and $2,000 total.

Additional guidance from the Secretary of Labor is anticipated soon regarding guidelines for calculating leave benefits as well as employee posting requirements.

The FMLA Expansion Act, included in the legislation, addresses employees whose children’s school or childcare location has closed due to the pandemic. The emergency FMLA expansion temporarily does away with some of the FMLA’s limitations. In general, FMLA applies only to those employers with 50 or more employees and only to those employees who worked for at least a year and 1,250 hours (and only for specific reasons). Under this expansion, the FMLA temporarily now includes all employers with fewer than 500 employees, and the employee needs to have worked for only 30 days prior.

Employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave if they cannot work, including remotely, due to having to care for their children whose schools/childcare locations are closed due to the pandemic. The initial 10 days are unpaid, but employees may use accrued PTO time at their election. After the 10 days, employees are entitled to receive two-thirds of their normal wages for the number of hours they would ordinarily be working, up to $200 per day and $10,000 total.

Those employers with 25 or more employees must reinstate the covered employee to the same or equivalent position upon return; for those employers with fewer than 25 employees, the employee must be reinstated unless the position no longer exists due to economic issues caused by the pandemic.

Please contact us to discuss how this law intersects with New York’s new paid sick leave requirements and the next steps to move forward.

UPDATED March 26, 2020 – Each covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises a notice of FFCRA requirements.

See additional information here.