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On Wednesday, March 19, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which contains four key provisions:

  • Free testing for the Coronavirus with no deductible or co-pay;
  • Two weeks of paid sick leave for people affected by the virus (full salary);
  • Up to three months of paid family and medical leave (2/3 salary);
  • More aid to states for unemployment benefits and nutritional assistance.

There are exceptions to the sick leave and FMLA leave provisions, which are explained more fully below:

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

  • Requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick time to an employee in case of:
    • The employee’s quarantine or isolation by order of a governmental authority;
    • The employee’s self-quarantine at the advice of a health care provider;
    • The employee’s experience of symptoms of COVID-19 and absence for medical diagnosis;
    • The employee’s care of an individual subject to a quarantine/isolation order or self-quarantine on advice of a health care professional;
    • The employee’s care of a son or daughter whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
    • The employee’s experience of similar conditions to COVID-19, as may be determined by applicable government agencies.
  • Full-time employees shall be eligible for 80 hours of paid sick time; part-time employees shall be eligible for paid sick time based on the average of hours worked over a 2-week period.
  • Depending on the reason for the paid sick time, employees may be subject to different daily/aggregate limits of compensation.
  • Paid sick time shall be immediately available to employees and an employer may not require an employee to use other available paid leave in lieu of paid sick time provided for under the Act.
  • The Act shall take effect within 15 days of its enactment until December 31, 2020, and the Secretary of Labor shall publish a poster for employers to post in the workplace.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

  • Amends the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) to provide for up to 12 weeks of leave to eligible employees who are unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for a child under 18 years of age if the school or place of care is closed or the child care provider of such child is unavailable due to the current COVID-19 public health emergency as declared by federal, state or local authorities;
  • Applies to employers who employ less than 500 employees and to employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days;
  • The first 10 days of leave may be unpaid, but employees shall have the option to apply any accrued paid leave available to them; the remaining 10 weeks of leave shall be paid at a rate no less than 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay, subject to a $200/per day and $10,000 individual aggregate limit;
  • Employers of employees who work as health care providers or emergency responders may elect to exclude them from these benefits;
  • The Act shall take effect within 15 days of its enactment until December 31, 2020;
  • The Secretary of Labor has the authority to issue regulations that may provide for exemption of businesses with fewer than 50 employees