The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act temporarily provides paid sick leave for employees of private employers with fewer than 500 employees, and most federal employees.
The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements.
Description of Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Paid sick leave must be provided in addition to any of the company’s preexisting leave policies, and employees must be permitted to use it before using any other type of leave.
The federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, covers private employers with fewer than 500 employees and most government employers (some federal workers are excluded). It does not cover private employers with 500 or more employees. The Act became effective April 1, 2020 and is currently available through December 31, 2020.
The Act provides up to 10 days of paid sick time for full-time employees, subject to an 80-hour cap. Part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours that they work in a typical two-week period.
This benefit excludes any day in which the employee receives compensation from his/her employer or Unemployment Insurance benefits.
Employees are entitled to their regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $511 per day, if the employee is unable to work because the employee is
- Quarantined, and/or
- Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
Employees are entitled to 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $200 per day because the employee is unable to work because of:
- Caring for someone who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order;
- Caring for their child if their school or day care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions;
- Experiencing a similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Employers are required to provide workers with the group health coverage the employer offered, if any, and when the employee elected to enroll in.
Qualifying for Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Full or part-time workers who are unable to work or work remotely due to a need for leave because the employee:
- Is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19;
- Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
- Is caring for someone who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order (one of first two points above);
- Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- Caring for their child, if their school or day care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions;
- Is experiencing a similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Note 1: There are no immigration status-related restrictions on eligibility.
Note 2: If the employee’s workplace closed or if the worker has been furloughed, they are not eligible for this benefit. They may be eligible for traditional Unemployment Insurance benefits or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit, refer to COVID-19, Expansion of Unemployment Insurance.
Note 3: Leave pay is also available to the self-employed via a tax credit when filing self-employment taxes with the federal government.
Applying for Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave
For a comprehensive overview of application procedures visit: https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/if-you-are-quarantined-yourself.
NYS provides a comprehensive overview of application procedures for available job-protected paid time off (both federal and state) for the individual’s own quarantine on this page.
EMPLOYER EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LAW
The U.S. Department of Labor may exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employers if the sick leave payments “would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern,” that is, the company fears it would be driven out of business. Such businesses can claim a small business exemption.
All business covered by this law are required to post the following Employee Rights notice: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf. Employers may satisfy the notice requirements of the law by emailing or direct mailing the notice to employees, or posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website.
REFUNDABLE TAX CREDIT
The Act provides refundable tax credit against payroll taxes owed by employers to cover 100% of the cost of required leave.
To file a complaint visit: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/workers#complaint
Coordination of Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave & Federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay when the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis.
- Two week of paid sick leave at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of the need to care for an individual subject to quarantine or to care for a child (under 18) whose school or child care provide is close or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
- An additional 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay where an 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.