What’s in the “Families First” Coronavirus Response Act?
Paid Leave for American Workers—With Very Broad Exceptions
Public health experts agree that all workers who can stay home should stay home.
For some, that means working from home. But what about those workers who can’t work from home—and for whom staying home means foregoing a regular paycheck?
This situation puts workers in a bind: stay home and suffer financially, or come to work—possibly with coronavirus symptoms, possibly as a silent carrier—and risk spreading the virus to others.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was established on March 18, 2020 to deal with this problem. It provides crucial aid, including paid leave, for employees. Those benefits kicked in on April 1.
This legislation is better than nothing—but it has significant exemptions. Here’s what you need to know about your rights to paid leave under the FFCRA.
What the benefits include
Under the new law, there are several types of benefits that employees can access, as long as they work for a qualifying employer:
- Two weeks of paid sick leave, up to 80 hours in total, at your regular pay rate if you’re experiencing symptoms, or you’re in quarantine under government orders or the advice of a healthcare professional.
- Two weeks of paid sick leave, up to 80 hours in total, at two-thirds of your regular pay rate if you have to provide care for someone under medical or government-ordered quarantine.
- Two weeks of paid sick leave, up to 80 hours in total, at two-thirds of your regular pay rate if you have to care for a child under 18 whose school or daycare provider is closed due to coronavirus concerns.
- Up to 10 weeks of additional family and medical leave at two-thirds of your regular pay if you have to care for a child whose school or daycare is closed, as long as you’ve held your current job for at least 30 days.
Paid sick leave is capped at a maximum of $211 or $511 per day, depending on the qualifying reason and the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Who is eligible?
The new law has some significant carve-outs that leave large swaths of the public ineligible for paid leave. For example:
- Companies with 500 or more employees don’t have to provide paid leave.
- Federal employees covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act may not be eligible for the expanded 10-week family and medical leave benefit, but can still access the initial two weeks of paid sick leave.
- Small companies with less than 50 employees may not be required to provide paid leave to employees who have lost childcare due to school and daycare closings, as long as their absence would imperil the business.
Are you entitled to paid leave? Talk to an experienced employment attorney
Do you have questions about your eligibility for paid leave under the FFCRA? If so, a knowledgeable employment lawyer can help.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.