Basics of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

by Mar 27, 2020

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.

COVID-19 and this new law create many HR challenges, such as effectively managing remote employees, ensuring employees feel safe, reducing hours or laying employees off to preserve cash, and more. While you worry about the safety of your family, your workforce, and your business, please lean on Civility Partners for HR help.

For now, here are some basic things you should know.

Who does the new law apply to?

The Act applies to all employers who have between 1 and 499 employees.

You are required to distribute this labor poster to your workforce on or before April 1, 2020, when the law goes into effect. This poster should also hang with the rest of your employer posters in a place with high employee traffic.

How will I pay for this?

The bill provides tax credits for employers offering benefits to their employees. The tax credits can cover up to 100% of qualified paid sick leave for employers, and a 67% refundable tax credit for self-employed people caring for a child or family member. For self-employed, the benefits are capped at either $200 per day or the average daily income rate, whichever is smaller.

These breaks will help, however, it won’t cover 100% of the costs.

I heard there was an exemption for small businesses.

There is an exemption, however it only applies when employee absence is based on need to care for a child as a result of school or child care facility closures. In other words, if an employee is sick or caring for someone who is sick, you will not be able to get an exemption.

I thought FMLA was for large business only.

That is not the case with this bill. The Emergency FMLA:

  1. Amends the definition of employee to anyone who has been employed by an employer for at least 30 days.
  2. Changes the definition of employer from 1-499 employees (it used to be over 50 employees).
  3. Expands the definition of parent to include foster and adoptive parents, step-parents, parents of a domestic partner, parental in-laws, guardians, and those who stood in loco parentis.
  4. Provides leave to provide care for a family member who is under a coronavirus-related quarantine.
  5. Expands the definition of family member to include next of kin and grandparents.
  6. Provides 12 weeks of job protections leave to care for a minor son or daughter (under 18 years of age) of an employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, related to coronavirus.
  7. Provides that leave after the first 10 days of any coronavirus-related family leave is to be paid in an amount that is not less than two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee otherwise would have worked. Employees are able to use any PTO, Vacation or State sick time to cover all or some of these 10 days.
  8. Requires job restoration following any such leave for any employee of an employer with 25 or more employees.
  9. Limits pay entitlement to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate per employee.

How Do I Calculate Pay for Part-Time Employees?

Employees who work a part-time or irregular schedule are entitled to be paid based on the average number of hours the employee worked for the six months prior to taking Emergency FMLA. Employees who have worked for less than six months prior to leave are entitled to the employee’s reasonable expectation at hiring of the average number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work.

I already provide required state sick time. Do I have to provide more now? 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides 80 hours of paid coronavirus-based leave (on top of the current required state paid sick leave).

Where can I get more resources?

This is the most comprehensive site we’ve seen for employers on coronavirus “stuff.”

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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