In response to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, in March 2020, Congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) – the first ever paid federal leave program for private employers. The FFCRA as enacted required private employers with less than 500 employees to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at employees’ regular rate of pay for employees who were unable to work due to a Covid-19 related quarantine order or while awaiting a medical diagnosis related to suspected symptoms of Covid-19. Employees who were caring for an individual subject to a quarantine order or recommendation, who were caring for a child because the child’s school or place of care was unavailable due to Covid-19 precautions, or who were experiencing “any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor,” were also entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, capped at two-thirds (2/3) of their regular rate of pay. Employees who had worked for the employer for at least 30 days and were caring for a child because the child’s school or place of care was closed due to Covid-19 precautions were entitled to an additional 10 weeks of leave at two-thirds (2/3) pay.
On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law a second Covid-19 stimulus bill. To the surprise of many, the bill did not extend the FFCRA’s requirements that covered employers provide paid sick leave for the Covid-19 related events described above. The bill did, however, extend the FFCRA’s tax credit, such that employers who wish to provide the paid sick leave at any rate, may continue to benefit from the credit for leave taken through March 31, 2021.
As Covid-19 remains prevalent throughout much of the country, many employers may still wish to take advantage of the program, both as a benefit to their workforce and to disincentivize employees who may be ill from coming to work and infecting others. Moreover, it may provide employers with a means to provide paid leave to employees who are entitled to take unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act at any rate.
The Biden administration has already announced its plan to urge Congress to reinstate and expand upon the FFCRA’s requirements. With the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and their dominance in the Senate, employers’ release from these requirements may not last long.
Here, we answer some Frequently Asked Questions about the FFCRA as it currently stands.
- Jill Kahn Marshall, Partner, RPJ Law
Compliments of Reavis Page Jump LLP – a member of the EACCNY.