Congress passed the Families First COVID Response Act (FFCRA). It grants qualifying employees the right to paid leave. Under certain circumstances, the Act requires the employer to pay employees up to 12 weeks for not working. The law applies only to businesses that have fewer than 500 employees.
If the business offers work from home, then the employee cannot elect to take FFCRA leave. Health Care workers and Emergency Responders are exempt from the benefits of the law. The Secretary of State may exempt businesses with 50 or fewer employees when the imposition of the FFCRA leave would jeopardize the business’s viability. Terminated employees do not get the benefit of the law, but they may have a wrongful termination lawsuit if they were terminated because they asked for FFCRA leave.
The Act provides two weeks (80 hours) of paid Sick Leave and ten weeks of paid FMLA leave. Each provides slightly different benefits. The triggering events overlap, but FMLA leave applies in more limited circumstances.
Employees are eligible for FFCRA paid Sick Leave under the following circumstances:
1. Government COVID quarantine or stay-at-home orders
2. COVID Quarantine advised by Healthcare providers
3. Experiencing COVID Symptoms and Seeking Diagnosis
4. Caring for a person subject to COVID stay-at-home or quarantine orders
5. Caring for kids home from school or without childcare due to COVID
6. Secretary of Health and Human Services order
For the reasons listed in 1-3, employees receive full pay for each day of sick leave, but that amount is capped at $511 per day and at $5,000 for the entire leave period. For reasons 4-6, employees receive two-thirds (2/3) of their regular pay capped at $200 per day and at $2,000 for the entire leave period
Paid FMLA leave only applies to employees who have children at home because COVID restrictions prevent them from going to school or day care. The first two weeks are unpaid. Presumably, FFCRA paid Sick Leave would cover that time. The following ten weeks are paid at the rate of two-thirds (2/3) of the employee’s regular rate of pay, capped at $200 per day and $10,000 for the entire leave period.
S. Ward Heinrichs, Esq.
Employment Law Office of Ward Heinrichs
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 408-7543 (fax)