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In this time of uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, businesses are scrambling to keep their doors open and their employees paid. They likely wonder what they can legally do if one of their valuable team members has to take time off as the result of the virus. What help can they qualify for, if any? Perhaps you can relate to this situation. 

Thankfully, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has recently provided paid sick leave updates and new requirements pertaining to a COVID-19 related leave of absence. These specifications are outlined in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (ACT or FFCRA), which is designed to be used as a response to COVID-19 related absences. These specific FFCRA provisions apply through December 31, 2020. At Consolidated Personnel Services (CPS, Inc.) we have compiled the following information explaining the ins and outs of the FFCRA:

Who Qualifies or is Considered a Covered Employee?

Employees of certain private and public employers, who employ fewer than 500 employees, are qualified for provisions of the FFCRA. This act does not amend the current Title II, Family and Medical Leave Act, which covers most federal government employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees can be exempt from the requirement relating to school closure and child care unavailability. This exception is often only applicable if the employee’s leave of absence would jeopardize the businesses viability.

What Does The FFCRA Cover?

In most cases, if an employee is covered under the FFCRA, they will be eligible for the following:

  • Two Weeks, or up to 80 hours, of paid sick leave. This leave will be paid at the employee’s current pay rate. This full salary sick leave is applicable if the employee is quarantined due to the advice of a health care provider or to obey local, state or federal government orders pertaining to COVID-19. Employees can also qualify for two weeks sick leave, at their current pay rate, if they are currently experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms or are awaiting a medical diagnosis.
  • Two Weeks, or up to 80 hours, at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay. Such an employee will qualify for this two/third salary if they are caring for an individual who is being forced to quarantine based on local, state or federal guidelines or who is awaiting a medical diagnosis. An employee can also qualify for this if they are caring for a child aged 18 and under whose child care or school is closed due to issues related to COVID-19.
  • An Additional 10 weeks is applicable at two-thirds the pay rate if an employee is unable to work because of caring for a child whose child care of school is unavailable or closed due to COVID-19 related problems. This is called paid expanded family and medical leave.

Qualifying Reasons For Leave

The FFCRA qualifies an employee for paid sick leave when they are unable to work because said employees are:

  1. They are part of the local, state or federal isolation or quarantine mandate related to COVID-19.
  2. They have been told by a health care provider that they need to self-quarantine due to COVID-19.
  3. They are currently seeking a medical diagnosis and are experiencing symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19.
  4. They are providing care of an individual who is either under a mandated quarantine or self-quarantine due to COVID-19.
  5. They are caring for a child whose childcare or school is unavailable due to COVID-19.
  6. They have a similar condition to those specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

Duration of Employee Leave Based on Qualifications

The length of leave an employee qualifies for is based on their reason of qualification. It is broken down as follows:

  • For reasons 1-4 and 6: A full time employee qualifies or is eligible for 80 hours of leave. A part-time employee is allowed the number of hours they average over a two-week period.
  • For reason 5: A full-time, 40-hour a week employee qualifies or is eligible for 12 weeks of leave. This includes two weeks of paid sick leave in conjunction with 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave. A part-time employee qualifies for the same amount of leave they normally work over that period.

Calculation of Pay Based on Leave

  • For reasons: 1, 2, or 3: These employees qualify for or are entitled to their regular rate of pay or minimum wage (whichever is higher) up to $511 a day or $5,110 over a two-week period.
  • For reasons 4 or 6: These employees qualify for or are entitled to two-third their pay rate or two-third minimum wage (whichever is higher) up to $200 daily or $2,000 over a two-week period.
  • For reason 5: These employees qualify for or are entitled to two-third their regular pay rate or two-third minimum wage (whichever is higher) of up to $200 per day, or 12,000 over a two-week period.

Understanding The FFCRA

Admittedly, even with the breakdown, understanding this new act and how eligibility is determined can become a bit difficult. We are here to help at CPS, Inc. Contact us today to learn more about our PEO services.