Late last night, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law. Honestly, I could write a five-page description of everything that this law provides and does not provide, but that’s not how I roll, and I think you want to read about this in plain English.

So, here we go, in bullet point format for those who think in outline form like me:

  • Deadline for compliance: April 2, 2020
  • Employee Eligibility: employees who have worked for the employer for at least 30 calendar days
  • Applicability: employers with less than 500 employees, i.e., small and medium-sized employers
  • Bases and amounts of Leave:
    • Family. 12 weeks – 10 of them paid family for school and childcare-related COVID-19 absences if employee cannot work (excludes telework)
      • First 10 days can be unpaid but employee can use any other available paid time off that they have
      • Rate: 2/3 of employee’s regular pay, at least
    • Sick. 80 hours of paid coronavirus-related sick pay if employee has been told to quarantine by the government or a doctor because of coronavirus, shows symptoms, or caring for a family member who is doing the same OR for child care when child care is no longer available because of coronavirus
      • Note: If you can telework, you are not sick. That is, paid sick leave is available if employee cannot work or telework because of a qualifying coronavirus-related absence
      • This is in addition any other state-mandated paid sick leave. See, for example, New York City, California, Maryland, Montgomery County, MD, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, etc.

Note: employers, you can always pay more, i.e., you can be more generous than the law requires

  • What it is NOT for:
    • Self-quarantine or caring for a family member who is sick or quarantined
  • Cap:
    • $200/day or $10K all together for family leave
    • $511/day and $5,110 all together for sick leave for the employee (for illness or quarantine) and $200/day and $2K all together for any other coronavirus-qualifying reason
  • Tax credits available:
    • 100% entitlement to employers providing these benefits taken against quarterly social security payments
    • for self-employed people, this is limited
  • Job protection if there is still a job to go back to.

Benefits:

  • immediate relief for millions of employees
  • allows the U.S. Department Of Labor to issue regulations that exempt small employers (with less than 50 employees) to apply paid sick days

Drawbacks:

  • financial problems for business who cannot afford to pay
  • excludes employers of health care employees or emergency responders to exclude such employees from coverage

Gaps:

  • cash flow problems for employers who cannot afford this.