As an employer, you are already aware that different types of provisions are being made for businesses and employees alike. With an abundance of information available, it’s important to know what your responsibilities are as a business owner, and what you can expect from your employees. Read on to learn some of the basics about the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCR Act):
What is the FFCR Act?
This act is specifically designed to address those small businesses affecting commerce, both public and private, with employees who may need to take leave during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during times of shelter in place orders or when school is not in session as originally scheduled. It specifically accomplished three actions (among other financial considerations):
1. Extended the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to cover leave and loss of income when an employee needs time off in order to care for a child
2. Created two weeks of sick leave time, whether that is for childcare or otherwise related to COVID-19
3. Provided tax credits directly related to the paid leave as mandated by the act
Does this apply to my business?
Certain employers are required by law to comply with this act. If your company:
you are required to comply. It’s important to note that even private companies as well as non-profits and religious organizations are not exempt from this act. However, it is equally important to note that the Department of Labor is applying the “integrated employer” test to those companies who may be a subsidiary of a parent company – this means that even if your individual subsidiary has fewer than 500 employees, but the parent company’s total employee count comes to more than 500 when including all subsidiaries, your business would not be required to comply with the act.
The Integrated Employer Test uses four factors to determine whether subsidiaries and parent companies should be counted together for employee totals:
1. Whether the companies operate under common management
2. The degree to which each set of operations are related to each other
3. The level of centralized control of labor operations
4. The degree of common ownership, and/or financial control
How and when should I count my employees? Who do I include in my total?
You should include any employees for whom you provide a W-2 – this includes temporary employees, and shared employees that may also work for your parent company, or work with various subsidiaries. You should also include employees who are leased, as well as day laborers.
As far as timing, it’s important to keep a current count of your employees, especially as they begin taking leave. For instance, if you have 502 employees and three employees take leave, your total would now be below 500 and you would need to comply with the act.
The requirements for your employees may be different, depending on the amount of time they have been with the company. For all employees, even the ones who recently joined your team, a businesses must do one of two things:
1. Provide 80 hours (two weeks) paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
2. Provide 80 hours (two weeks) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, 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 the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition.
For those employees who have been with you at least 30 days, you must provide up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds 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.
Employers must post these regulations in a visible place inside the workspace where all employees have access to it.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes – the act provides exemptions for those who employee fewer than 50 people, specifically from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
There are also exemptions in place for healthcare workers who are deemed essential to keeping others safe – these employers may elect not to provide the leave outlined in the act.
For those employers who have fewer than 25 employees, they are not required to protect the job status of an individual employee, as long as they meet each of the following conditions:
Are there limits to how much an employee who is taking leave can be paid?
Yes – the limit is $200 dollars a day, up to $12,000 aggregate if an employee takes the additional 10 weeks. However, according to the DOL, “covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA…Applicable tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage.”
For more information, we recommend listening to this webinar. As always, these acts and laws are subject to change. Check our online calendar for additional webinars that will address updates as they become available.