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Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Creates New Employee Leave Rights

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a new Federal law that goes into effect April 2, 2020. Employers with 499 or fewer employees are governed by the law. The FFCRA creates new leave rights for employees affected by COVID-19.

The FFRCA provides two (2) benefits: (1) Emergency FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act leave); and (2) Paid Sick Leave. In order to qualify for either benefit, the employee must be unable to work, remotely or otherwise. The employee will not qualify for any benefit under the FFRCA, if the employee can work remotely.

Emergency FMLA

An employee will be entitled to utilize emergency FMLA if: a.) the employee has worked for the employer at least thirty (30) calendar days; and b.) the employee cannot work, remotely or otherwise, due to a need to care for a child under 18 years old, if the child’s school or day care facility is closed due to a COVID-19 public emergency.

Emergency FMLA leave provides for a total of twelve (12) weeks of leave, in two (2) tiers—unpaid for the first two (2) weeks, then paid. Eligible employees (whether salaried or hourly) first may take ten (10) days of unpaid leave, during which time they may substitute accrued medical, sick, vacation or personal leave in order to get paid. After the initial 10-day period, the FFRCA then gives eligible employees the right to up to ten (10) weeks of paid leave. A salaried employees may receive up to ten (10) weeks pay, at a rate equivalent to 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay. An hourly employee may receive up to ten (10) weeks pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay for 2/3 of the hours the employee normally works, meaning the average number of hours the employee worked in a week, during the 6-month period preceding the leave.

Paid Sick Leave

Employees will qualify for paid sick leave if they cannot work, remotely or otherwise, for any of the following six (6) reasons: a.) the employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine due to COVID-19; b.) a health care provider has advised the employee to quarantine; c.) the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; d.) the employee is caring for an individual who is under quarantine or an isolation order, or who has been advised to self-quarantine; e.) the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or f.) the employee is experiencing any substantially similar condition as approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Labor. Notably, while employees must have been employed at least thirty (30) calendar days to qualify for emergency FMLA leave under FFCRA, no such requirement exists for an employee to qualify for Paid Sick Leave under the law.

An employee qualifying for Paid Sick Leave for reasons a.), b.) or c.) above may receive: a.) full pay for eighty (80) hours, at the greater of either the employee’s normal rate of pay or the minimum wage, if the employee is a full-time employee; or b.) full pay for the average number of hours that the employee would have worked in a 2-week period, at the greater of either the employee’s normal rate of pay or the minimum wage, if the employee is a part-time employee.

An employee qualifying for Paid Sick Leave for reasons d.), e.) or f.) above may receive: a.) full pay for 53 1/3 hours, at the greater of either the employee’s normal rate of pay or the minimum wage, if the employee is a full-time employee; or b.) full pay for two-thirds of the average number of hours that the employee would have worked in a 2-week period, at the greater of either the employee’s normal rate of pay or the minimum wage, if the employee is a part-time employee.

If you have a question regarding employee rights law, you should contact an experienced employee rights attorney such as Benjamin T. King at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. Attorney King is the current President of the National Employment Lawyers Association—New Hampshire Chapter and has been ranked by his peers in the top 5% of attorneys in New England representing employees in employment discrimination cases, continuously since 2014. Attorney King can be reached at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form.

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