Law prescribes relief for families affected by virus

The federal government is providing financial relief for Americans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide their employees with two weeks of expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. A full-time employee is eligible for up to 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. These provisions go into effect April 1 through Dec. 31.

Per the Department of Labor, the FFCRA provides that covered employers must provide to all (full and part time) employees:

· Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to federal, state or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or

· Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bonafide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to federal, state or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under age 18) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.

A covered employer must provide to employees that it has employed for at least 30 days:

· Up to an additional 10 weeks of 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 bonafide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

The provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Most employees of the federal government are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was not amended by this act, and are not eligible. However, federal employees covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act are covered by the paid sick leave provision.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if they can justify that would jeopardize the viability of the business.

An employee would qualify for the FFCRA if they experience one of the following: is unable to work or telework due to being 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 subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised to self-quarantine; is caring for a child whose school or place of child care is unavailable due to COVID-19; or 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.

Employees caring for a child whose school, place of care, or child care provider are unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 are eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave at 40 hours a week and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours that the employee is scheduled to work normally over that period.

For more information, visit the Department of Labor website at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave.

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