Yesterday I covered the loans that were first made available under the first Coronavirus stimulus package, and the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. Today’s post will focus on the second stimulus package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA is intended to protect employees and individuals from the economic effects of the Coronavirus. However, the FFCRA also places additional expenses and responsibilities on employers between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
The FFCRA requires employers to provide two (2) weeks paid sick leave for individuals directly affected by the Coronavirus. And ten (10) weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave if an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed because of Covid-19. Unlike a lot of laws, these new requirements only apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. That means, this law applies to small businesses!!!
Two (2) Weeks Paid Sick Leave
Employees that have been employed at least 30 days are entitled to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing Covid-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. This paid leave is in addition to any other leave already agreed upon; or,
If the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual that is quarantined, or care for a child under 18 years of age whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to Covid-19 and/or is experiencing a substantially similar condition, Employee is entitled to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds (2/3) the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Ten (10) Weeks Paid Family and Medical Leave
If the employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to Covid-19, the employer is required to pay up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds (2/3) the employees regular rate of pay.
Prohibitions, Penalties and Enforcement
Employers that violate the two weeks paid sick leave provision, or that unlawfully terminate an employee as a result taking paid sick leave under the FFCRA will be subject to the penalties and enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers that violate extended paid family medical leave provisions will be subject to the penalties and enforcement of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Department of Labor will observe a temporary period of non-enforcement for the first 30 days after the Act takes effect, so long as the employer has acted reasonably and in good faith to comply with the Act.
While there isn’t a whole lot of good for business, there is some.
Employers with Less than 50 Employees
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability, if the leave could cause the business to close down. These rules however have not been ironed out as of the writing of this blog. Considering these laws go into effect April 1, I would expect clarification very soon.
All qualifying wages paid to employees under the FFCRA qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits.
All employers are required to post in a conspicuous place on their premises, a notice of the FFCRA requirements. The following is a link to download FREE Families First Coronavirus Response Act posters from the Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic, or to get additional information on this Act.