Webinar Recap: Key Takeaways About How FFCRA Can Impact Your Business
WEBINAR RECAP: KEY TAKEAWAYS ABOUT HOW FFCRA CAN IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS
COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, is providing an unprecedented challenge to employers, with significant disruptions to large-scale supply chains and infrastructures. When it comes to the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), there can be a lot of questions and even some confusion.
Identifying the key components to understand about the FFCRA and its impact on businesses was the subject of a recent webinar by the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, part of our Implications to Employers webinar series.
During the webinar, Jessica Linder Gallo, President and CEO of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, sat down virtually with featured speakers Julie Proscia and Rebecca Dobbs Bush, labor and employment attorneys with SmithAmundsen LLC. They detailed the key issues, provisions and requirements for employers as they look to navigate the impact of COVID-19.
Understanding the Family First Coronavirus Response Act
First and foremost, you need to know that the FFCRA focuses on the following three areas:
- Paid Leave
- Expanded FMLA
- Expansion of Unemployment Benefits
What is it?
Paid leave covers businesses with fewer than 500 employees and government employers with exemption for healthcare providers and first responders. Based on economic viability, there is the potential for an exemption for businesses with under 50 employees.
The sick leave maximum is 80 hours for full-time employees or the average hours over the standard two-week pay period for part-time workers, while limited to a one-time usage. The paid sick leave is added to any paid leave required by state/local Law.
Who is Eligible?
Employees are eligible for paid sick leave if they are unable to work at home or remotely and if they fall in to one of the following eligibility categories:
- Are subject to a governmental directive to quarantine or isolation order. This includes “Stay At Home” order
- Have been advised by a medical care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 symptoms
- Are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a diagnosis
- Are caring for family or household member subject to quarantine order
- Are caring for children with closed schools or no caregiver due to medical emergency
- Have other reasons as directed by the Department of Health and Human Services
- Maximum for eligibility categories #1, #2 or #3 (as listed above) is the regular rate of pay, up to $511/Day and $5,110 total
- Maximum for eligibility categories #4, #5 or #6 is 2/3 (as listed above) is the regular rate of pay, up to $200/Day and $2,000 total
What is it and Who is Eligible?
Expanded FMLA, like paid sick leave, covers businesses with fewer than 500 employees and government employers with exemption for healthcare providers and first responders. Likewise, based on economic viability, there is the potential for an exemption for businesses with under 50 employees.
Employees need to have been employed for at least 30 calendar days in order to qualify for up to 12 weeks of leave (including the two weeks under the FFCRA Paid Sick Leave provisions) to care of children under 18 if schools are closed or the childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
Employees will receive two-thirds of their regular rate of pay, up to $200/day and $2,000 total. Expanded FLMA is different from regular FMLA in that the expanded FMLA via FFCRA is limited to COVID-19 versus other serious health conditions. Additionally, regular FMLA does not have government reimbursement whereas expanded FMLA does.
PAID LEAVE & EXPANDED FMLA: KEY PROVISIONS FOR EMPLOYERS
For both paid leave and expanded FMLA, employers must provide employees with notice of their options. This is typically done by posting a flyer/poster in the office (i.e., coffee or break room). However, with so many employees working remotely from home, Julie advises her clients to email the flyer to employees. For ease, the flyer can be downloaded here and then shared with employees.
For any employee requesting leave, either paid leave or expanded FMLA, there can also be no retaliation. Recoupment of the cost for the employer is 100% through a quarterly tax credit.
EXPANSION OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
The eligibility for expanded unemployment benefits is the same as it is for sick leave (see above) with effective dates of January 27, 2020 – December 31, 2020. Julie noted that if someone resigns out of fear of contracting the coronavirus, then they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. However, she advised employers to tread carefully and even enquire as to the reason for the resignation. This can be a slippery slope; employees can be resigning for a reason that makes them eligible for unemployment.
Key provisions of expanded unemployment benefits:
- An employee who was scheduled to start a new job, but now can’t due COVID-19
- An employee became the head of household due to the death of the previous head of household
As part of filing for unemployment benefits, employees receive an additional 13 weeks of pay at $600 per week (total 39 weeks) with no waiting period for the additional weeks. Non-traditional individuals—independent contractors, self-employed, gig workers, and/or employees who have not worked the requisite number of hours—are also covered. Benefits are also extended to furloughed workers, reduced hour workers, and those affected by temporary layoffs.
This blog covered some of the most common questions around FFCRA paid leave, expanded FMLA and the expansion of unemployment benefits. These highlights are only a few of the topics covered during the webinar that’s rich in additional information.
DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE WEBINAR
Explore in detail the entire slate of insights from attorneys Julie Proscia and Rebecca Dobbs Bush, including the CARES Act and the Payroll Protection Program. Click here to listen to our complimentary webinar and to download the presentation.