On March 19, 2020, President Trump signed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Act contains some important provisions affecting the Family Medical Leave Act, paid sick leave, and tax credits for employers who pay sick leave. Its provisions are effective no later than April 3, 2020.
FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT CHANGES
An employee who is unable to work because that employee’s son or daughter’s school or place of care has closed due to a COVID-19 related public health emergency is eligible for Family Medical leave, even if the employee has been employed by the employer for as little as thirty days prior to requesting the leave. Employees who become ill with the COVID-19 virus would remain eligible under the “serious health condition” section of the existing Family Medical Leave Act.
An employee who is eligible for a “qualifying need related to a public health emergency” as described above is not entitled to paid leave for the first ten days but may use accrued leave as a substitute for the unpaid leave provided under the Act. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, discussed below, provides for paid sick leave for the first ten-day period.
After the first ten days, the employer is required to provide paid leave at an amount not less than 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act also affects paid sick leave. Employers are now required to provide paid sick time to employees who are unable to work for the following reasons:
(1) The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
(2) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
(3) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
(4) The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).
(5) The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
(6) The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
Full-time employees are eligible for a total of 80 hours of paid sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to pay for the average number of hours that employee works over a 2-week period.
Paid sick time for an employee taking leave under categories (1) – (3) above is limited to a maximum of $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. Paid sick time for an employee taking leave under categories (4) – (6) above is limited to a maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.
TAX CREDITS FOR PAID SICK AND PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE
Employers who pay qualified sick leave wages as required by the act are entitled to a credit against the excise taxes on employee wages under Sections 3111(a) and 3221(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Credits are subject to the same $200 per day/$511 per day and $2,000/$5,110 aggregate limits as in the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
An employer may also receive credit for the amount of qualified health plan expenses paid by the employer properly allocable to the qualified sick leave wages.
Questions About Employee and Employer Rights During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Rogge Dunn Group will continue to monitor legal developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The employment lawyers at the Rogge Dunn Group have the experience needed to successfully prevent and/or resolve employment disputes. Moreover, three of the firm’s lawyers are Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. For more information, contact the Rogge Dunn Group here.