Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave

We know many people have questions about The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). We have compiled information along with answers to many frequently asked questions to provide guidance during this transition. We have also provided answers to questions about the recovery rebate included in the bill. Read below to learn more: 

  1. When does the FFCRA go into effect and how long will it last?
  2. Who does the FFCRA apply to?
  3. I am a federal employee, does this bill apply to me?
  4. I have only been employed at my job for 2-3 weeks, would I still be able to get paid leave under the FFCRA?
  5. What qualifies as “COVID-19 related” circumstances under the FFCRA?
  6. My children’s school is closed, but I can telework; am I eligible for paid sick leave under the FFCRA?
  7. How much paid sick leave is my employer required to give me?
  8. If I have sick leave, am I required to use it first before using the FFCRA’s sick leave?
  9. Am I eligible for the Recovery Rebate even if I am taking paid sick leave using the FFCRA?
  10. Which states have new paid leave policies because of COVID-19?

1. When does the FFCRA go into effect and how long will it last?

The stimulus bill will go into effect from April 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020. Pub. L. No. 116-127, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Congress, March 14, 2020)

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2. Who does the FFCRA apply to?

The law applies to private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers. It applied to any full-time or part-time employee that has been on the employer’s payroll for 30 calendar days.

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3. I am a federal employee, does this bill apply to me?

The FFCRA requires the Federal government to provide all of its employees with paid sick leave and, for employees who are covered under Title I of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

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4. I have only been employed at my job for 2-3 weeks, would I still be able to get paid leave under the FFCRA?

No. The law applies to employees who have been on the employer’s payroll for at least 30 calendar days.

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5. What qualifies as “COVID-19 related” circumstances under the FFCRA?

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:

  • is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  • is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • is caring for an individual who is quarantined or has been advised to self-quarantine as described in;
  • is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  • is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

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6. My children’s school is closed, but I can telework; am I eligible for paid sick leave under the FFCRA?

Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave if caring for his or her child whose school/day care/ after care/place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons.

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7. How much paid sick leave is my employer required to give me?An employee taking leave is eligible for two weeks paid leave. A full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period.

Employees should be paid at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 total over a 2-week period.

Eligibility is subject to the following qualifying reasons:

  • subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  • is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

 An employee taking leave due to the following qualifying reasons is entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 total over a 2-week period.

  • is caring for an individual who is quarantined or has been advised to self-quarantine as described in;
  • is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

A full-time employee caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19 is eligible for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, for up to $200 daily and $12,000 total. A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

Federal Employees: Federal employees who are covered under Title I of the FMLA and have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave if he or she is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.

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8. If I have sick leave, am I required to use it first before using the FFCRA’s sick leave?

No. The law requires that the employer allow the employee to first use sick leave provided for under this sick leave law, then decide to use any remaining accrued paid leave under an employer’s policy.  Your employer cannot require you to use accrued leave under an employer policy first.

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9. Am I eligible for the Recovery Rebate even if I am taking paid sick leave using the FFCRA?

Yes. You are still eligible for the recovery rebate (subject to the requirements) even you are receiving paid sick leave.

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10. Which states have new paid leave policies because of COVID-19?


California
Executive Order N-25-20 (Governor’s Office, March 12, 2020)

  • Employees unable to work due to COVID-19 may qualify for benefits under the state disability insurance (SDI) or paid family leave (PFL) programs. Both SDI and PFL benefits are approximately 60% to 70% of wages (depending on income) and range from $50 to $1,300 a week. California’s Employment Development Department provides more information.


Los Angeles
COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (File 20-0147-S39) (City Council, March 25, 2020)

  • The Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance requiring employers with employees working in the city to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) to those employed from Feb. 3 through March 4, 2020. The mayor is expected to sign the measure before the April 7 deadline. The ordinance takes effect immediately upon signature and sunsets at the end of 2020 unless the city council extends it.


San Francisco
Paid Sick Leave & The Coronavirus (Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, March 24, 2020)

San Francisco: Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (April 17, 2020)

  • PHELO applies to private employers with 500 or more employees. The guidelines clarify that employers must use worldwide employee numbers to calculate business size. For businesses whose employee numbers fluctuate above and below 500 over a year, the average number of employees per pay period in 2019 will be the employer’s business size in 2020. For individually owned franchises, the guidelines clarify business size determination relies on how many employees the franchisee has.


Colorado
Health Emergency Leave with Pay (HELP) rules (Department of Labor and Employment, March 11, 2020, as amended on March 16 and April 3, 2020)

  • The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment issued Health Emergency Leave with Pay (HELP) rules requiring certain employers to provide paid sick leave for COVID-19 testing. Employers in the leisure, hospitality, food service, child care, education and home healthcare industries must provide up to four calendar days of paid sick leave to an employee with flu-like symptoms who is being tested for COVID-19. Originally, paid sick leave was targeted to end when an employee received a negative COVID-19 test result. HELP rules were amended on March 16 to extend the paid leave to employees in quarantine or isolation, under instruction from a healthcare provider, or due to the risk of having COVID-19. The amended rules include retail establishments that sell groceries. The rules were amended again on April 3 to include the food and beverage manufacturing industry among covered employers.
  • On April 27, 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment amended its Health Emergency Leave with Pay (HELP) Rules, which require certain employers to provide employees paid sick leave for a covered COVID-19 reason. The HELP Rules were originally issued on March 11, 2020, and minor amendments expanding industry coverage were subsequently issued on March 26 and April 3. The latest changes are a response to Governor Polis’s April 26 Safer at Home Executive Order, which gradually allows certain businesses to operate at greater capacity. Key portions of the April 27, 2020 amendments to the HELP Rules are highlighted below.


Connecticut
COVID-19 FAQs for workers and employers (Department of Labor, March 20, 2020)

  • The Connecticut Department of Labor has published COVID-19 FAQs for workers and employers that address a number of topics, including the use of accrued paid sick leave during the pandemic. The state’s paid sick leave law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid leave per year. Employees can use this paid leave for their own or a child’s or spouse’s illness or medical care. According to the FAQs, which the department plans to update regularly, paid sick leave will cover certain absences related to COVID-19.

District of ColumbiaB23-0718 – COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (March 17, 2020)

  • The legislation extends protections and expands eligibility for medical leave under the District’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by creating a new type of medical leave, “declaration-of-emergency” leave. Employees who are ordered or recommended to quarantine or isolate by D.C. Health are now eligible for up to two weeks of unpaid declaration-of-emergency leave without fear of losing their job. Declaration-of-emergency leave is available to all employees during the period of the public health emergency, regardless of the size of the business. (FMLA normally only applies to employers with 20 or more employees.) The extension to FMLA is in addition to the new federal paid medical leave provided through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which grants extended paid leave for employees who work for certain public employers, or who work for private employers with fewer than 500 employees.


Massachusetts
Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 (Office of the Attorney General)

  • FAQs from the Massachusetts attorney general clarify employee rights and employer obligations under the state’s existing paid sick leave law in the context of COVID-19. Massachusetts employers are required to provide up to 40 hours of accrued paid sick time each year for employees to use — to take care of themselves or family members, or for a required or recommended quarantine. Current law does not cover instances of school, child care, or work closures due to a public health emergency. Nevertheless, employers are encouraged to allow liberal use of earned sick time — and vacation or paid time off — during the pandemic in order to support full compliance with the recommendations of health professionals. 
  • The DOI has released Filing Guidance 2020 – A: Paid Family and Medical Leave. Under the guidance, insurance carriers who offer private plans must submit the plans to the DOI for review before June 3, 2020. Once approved, the carriers will receive an approved policy form number.


Michigan
Executive Order No. 2020-36 (Office of the Governor, April 3, 2020)

  • Michigan’s Executive Order No. 2020-36 requires individuals who have had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 or displays one or more of the principal symptoms of COVID-19 to remain home. Employees must be permitted to use any accrued time under the state’s paid sick leave mandate. The order prohibits discharge, discipline, or other retaliation against employees who are staying home due to illness, whose close contacts are sick, or who are at particular risk of infecting others with COVID-19. The Executive Order is in effect until the end of the declared states of emergency and disaster.

MinnesotaWorker protections related to COVID-19 (Department of Labor and Industry, March 19, 2020)

  • Employers with employees in DuluthMinneapolis or St. Paul are required to provide paid sick leave that can be accrued over time or frontloaded at the start of the year. Specifics differ for each ordinance. The cities of Duluth and Minneapolis have provided new FAQs for employers to clarify how these ordinances apply to COVID-19 related absences.


Duluth, MN
Earned Sick and Safe Time and COVID-19 FAQs (City of Duluth, MN)

  • Duluth FAQs. Employees in Duluth can use accrued paid sick time for coronavirus screening, treatment or care for symptoms or infection, and for testing or quarantine following close personal contact with an infected or symptomatic person. Sick leave can be used by the employee for self-care or to care for a covered family member. The ordinance doesn’t cover use of paid sick time if a family member’s school or place of child care is closed, or if the employee’s workplace is closed by order of a public official due to the virus. However, the FAQ notes that an employer can allow the use of paid sick leave for reasons not covered by the ordinance.


Minneapolis, MN
COVID-19 and the Sick and Safe Time Ordinance FAQs (Department of Civil Rights, March 18, 2020)

  • Minneapolis FAQs. Employees in Minneapolis can use accrued sick leave for absences related to coronavirus symptoms, testing or infection. Paid sick time can be used by the employee for self-care, or to care for a family member. Sick time can also be used if a family member’s school or place of child care is closed, or if the employee’s workplace is closed by order of a public official due to the virus. Preemptive closures or self-quarantine are not covered uses under the ordinance.


Nevada
COVID-19 and paid leave guidance (Office of the Labor Commissioner, March 11, 2020)

  • Nevada’s labor commissioner issued COVID-19 guidance for the state’s new paid leave law (2019 Ch. 592). Employers are barred from requiring employees to use accrued paid sick leave if unable to work due to a mandatory government quarantine, but employees can choose to use paid or other applicable leave. Employers can find more information on the labor commission’s website that features links to COVID-19 resources, including a summary of new federal COIVD-19-related paid leave requirements.


New Jersey
COVID-19 FAQs for employees (Department of Labor & Workforce Development)

  • Emergency legislation (AB 3848) prohibits employers in the state from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee who requests or takes time off from work based on a licensed medical professional’s written recommendation that the employee has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease. The law is effective immediately and continues for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and state of emergency declared by the governor in Executive Order 103. Violations could lead to reinstatement orders, fines up to $2,500 per instance and employee-initiated court action.
  • Another new law (SB 2304) amends New Jersey’s paid sick leave law to allow employees to use accrued sick time during a governor’s state of emergency declaration, extends job protections under the Family Leave Act to employees caring for a seriously ill family member, and expands the definition of a serious health condition under both temporary disability and family leave insurance. The amendments, effective March 25, 2020, are not specific to the COVID-19 pandemic and do not have an expiration date.
  • In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, on April 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 2374 (S2374), which amends the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance law (NJFLI) to provide job-protected,  paid leave to care for family members quarantined due to COVID-19, and amends the NJFLA to provide for  job-protected  unpaid leave to care for children due to COVID-19 school closures.  The legislation also allows employers to seek certification relating to these expanded categories of leave, allows highly paid employees to take leave if the leave is COVID-19 related, and provides that COVID-19-related leave may be taken on an intermittent basis. These new provisions are retroactively effective as of March 25, 2020.


New York
2020 Ch. 25, Emergency COVID-19 paid sick leave law (Senate, March 18, 2020)

  • Effective immediately, New York emergency legislation (2020 Ch. 25) &New Paid Leave for COVID-19 (Paid Family Leave) provides temporary paid sick leave for employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19. The law also expands the state’s existing PFL and disability benefit programs to certain employees. New York City’s and Westchester County’s paid sick time mandates are not preempted by the temporary state law entitlements. In addition, PFL (Section 355.9 of Title 12 NYCRR) has been amended on an emergency basis to clarify that employees may take family leave to care for a family member diagnosed with COVID-19. Coordination of New York’s leave benefits with the new federal leave entitlement under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is complicated.


Oregon
: COVID-19 FAQs for employers and employees (Wage and Hour Division)

  • Oregon’s sick leave law requires employers to provide employees with at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. The state’s Wage and Hour Division has published FAQs for employers and employees about sick time and the coronavirus. Employees can use accrued sick time when a public health emergency closes their place of work, or they have to care for child whose school or child care center has closed due to the public health emergency. Employees also can use paid sick leave for their own illness or to care for an ill family member (including parents, grandparents and grandchildren).


Philadelphia
Supplemental Emergency Regulation regarding COVID-19 and Ch. 9-411 of the Philadelphia Code (Office of Labor, March 16, 2020)

  • Philadelphia’s paid sick leave law supplementary regulations, effective for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, allow for expanded use of accrued leave. Employees may use accrued leave to undergo a COVID-19 evaluation and a two-week self-quarantine if they have symptoms of the virus, have had direct contact with an infected individual, or have recently traveled in a high-risk country. Self-quarantine may also apply to employees who are considered high risk by a medical professional.


Rhode Island
Workplace fact sheet (Department of Labor and Training, March 10, 2020)

  • The Department of Labor and Training issued a workplace fact sheet on COVID-19, reminding workers that they may be eligible for temporary disability or family caregiver insurance benefits if they or a family member have been impacted by COVID-19. The state is waiving the seven-day minimum claim period for COVID-19-related claims and the need for a medical certification if a worker is under quarantine.


Vermont
COVID-19 FAQs for employer and employees (Department of Labor, March 19, 2020)

  • Vermont’s paid sick time law requires employers to provide up to 40 hours of accrued paid leave every year. COVID-19 FAQs from the state’s Department of Labor remind employers and employees that accrued paid sick leave can be used by employees who have COVID-19 or need to care for a sick family member. Under the law, employees can also use accrued sick time when a family member’s school or business is closed for public health or safety reasons.


Washington
Paid sick leave and COVID-19 webpage (Department of Labor & Industries)

  • The Department of Labor & Industries has posted answers to common questions on paid sick leave and COVID-19. Employees can use paid sick leave if a public official closes their place of business or their child’s school or place of care due to COVID-19. Employees can also use paid time off for these purposes if paid sick leave is part of the PTO program. However, employers cannot require employees to use to their paid sick leave to cover virus-related absences. The employee can choose when to use accrued paid sick leave.


Seattle
Paid sick and safe time webpage (Office of Labor Standards)

  • FAQs from Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards clarify how the city’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance (PSST) applies for the COVID-19 public emergency and detail the city’s recent amendments. The ordinance requires employers with one or more employees working in the city to provide paid leave to employees to care for themselves or a family member who has a physical or mental health condition, a medical appointment or a critical safety issue. Under the original ordinance, employees also could use accrued paid leave when a public official closes their place of business or their child’s school or place of care for health reasons.

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