COVID-19 Bulletin #1
Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Facts
Effective: April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 (NOTE: the original effective date was April 2, 2020; however, the president signed legislation and Department of Labor has since advanced the effective date of these provisions to April 1, 2020.)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law by the President on March 18, 2020 in response to the pandemic. The act contains increased funding, combined with reduced requirements for established safety net programs like WIP and SNAP, and parts of the FFCRA will have a significant impact on employers through enhanced employee entitlements through the rest of 2020.
There are two parts of the act, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Sick Leave Act, which require employers to provide additional benefits to employees affected by the pandemic.
Any employer with less than 500 employees; there is a possible exemption for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the imposition of the Act’s requirements would “jeopardize the viability of the business.” To elect this small business exemption, employers must document why their business meets the criteria set forth by the DOL (which will be addressed in more detail in forthcoming regulations).
In order to quality for FFCRA benefits, the employer must have work available for the employee. Exceptions to eligibility include:
• Employees who have been laid off or their worksite closed prior to April 1, 2020 are NOT eligible for FFCRA; these employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits. • Employees who have requested leave but their worksite closes after April 1, 2020 and before the start of a requested leave are NOT eligible for FFCRA; these employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits. • Employees whose worksite closes while they are on paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave are eligible to receive any benefits earned while they were on leave before their worksite closed. These employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits. • Employees furloughed before, on or after April 1, 2020 are not eligible for FFCRA; these employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits. • Employees on a reduced schedule may not use FFCRA for the hours they are not scheduled to work but can take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave if a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents them from working their full schedule.
Required Posting Each covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises a notice of FFCRA requirements. The Poster: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf The Poster (Spanish): https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/Pandemic/1422-spanish.pdf FAQs about the Poster: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-poster-questions DOL Q&A Guidance: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave Employers can apply for a series of refundable Payroll Tax credits if they are required to provide the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave. Subject to certain caps, the refundable tax credit is equal to 100% of the qualified wages paid per calendar quarter under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and/or Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.
Other Important Aspects of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act Of 2020 Provides $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to unemployment insurance benefit processing and payment, under certain conditions.
Coverage for Testing For COVID-19 Requires private health plans (including insured, self-insured, and grandfathered) to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services to employees and their covered dependents, without cost sharing (like deductibles, copayments and coinsurance) from enactment of the Act through the end of the national emergency period.