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                                                                                                 April 2, 2020

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Leave Provisions


This In Focus examines the Families First Coronavirus
Response Act (FFCRA; P.L. 116-127) leave provisions, as
amended by the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136), and
regulations published by the Department of Labor (DOL)
on April 1, 2020.
The FFCRA created two new and temporary leave benefits
for eligible employees: (1) emergency Family and Medical
Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for the employee's minor
child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose care
provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus Disease
2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency (such leave is
paid leave after an initial 10 days of unpaid leave), and (2)
paid sick leave for certain COVID- 19 related needs. The
FFCRA included tax credit provisions to help employers
(including the self-employed) cover costs related to paid
leave. Both paid leave benefits took effect on April 1, 2020,
and apply to leave between April 1, 2020 and December 31,
2020.

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The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
(FFCRA, Division C) amended the FMLA to allow eligible
employees of covered employers to use up to 12
workweeks of FMLA-protected leave to care for the
employee's minor child whose school or care provider is
unavailable due to a COVID- 19 public health emergency
(i.e., emergency FMLA leave). Further discussion of the
FMLA is in CRS Report R44274, The Family and Medical
Leave Act: An Overview of Title I, by Sarah A. Donovan.
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Unlike standard FMLA employee eligibility
requirements-at least one year and 1,250 hours (in the last
year) of employment with the current employer having at
least 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite-
employees who have been with their current employer for
at least 30 calendar days and work for a covered employer
may use emergency FMLA leave. DOL regulations provide
that employees meet this condition if they were on the
employer's payroll for the 30 calendar days just before the
day leave begins. Rehired employees may qualify for leave
if they were laid off not earlier than March 1, 2020, worked
for the employer for at least 30 of the 60 calendar days
before the layoff, and were rehired by the same employer.
For emergency FMLA leave purposes, covered employers
are private-sector employers employing fewer than 500
employees and certain public agencies, including state and
local governments. For federal employee coverage,
emergency FMLA leave is available to legislative branch
employees covered by the Congressional Accountability
Act of 1995, Government Accountability Office employees,
Library of Congress employees, and other federal
employees who are not covered by the family and medical


leave provisions in Subchapter V, Chapter 63, US. Code.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director
may exclude for good cause from the emergency FMLA
leave requirements certain federal employers for certain
categories of executive branch employees.

In general, FMLA leave is unpaid. For emergency FMLA
leave, the first 10 days may be unpaid, although the
employee may elect to use other paid leave during that
period. Covered employers must compensate employees for
the remainder of emergency FMLA leave at two-thirds of
their regular rate of pay. Such paid leave is capped at $200
per day per employee up to $10,000 total per employee.

FMLA leave is generally job-protected. That is, upon return
from leave, with some exceptions, an employee must be
reinstated to the job held before taking FMLA leave. This
requirement does not apply to employers with fewer than
25 employees if the employee used emergency FMLA leave
and certain conditions are met.
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The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (FFCRA, Division E)
requires covered employers to provide paid sick leave to an
employee who is unable to work (including telework) and
(1) is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or
isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) has been advised
by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns
related to COVID- 19; (3) is experiencing symptoms of
COVID-19 and is seeking medical diagnosis; (4) is caring
for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local
quarantine or isolation order related to COVID- 19 or an
individual who has been advised by a health care provider
to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; (5)
is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed,
or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-
19 related reasons; or (6) is experiencing any other
substantially similar condition, as specified by the Secretary
of Health and Human Services.

Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick
leave, and part-time employees must be provided the
equivalent of two weeks of leave. DOL regulations provide
that part-time employees are those employed for fewer than
40 hours per week. For leave taken for the employee's
quarantine, self-isolation, or medical diagnosis, sick leave is
compensated at the greater of the employee's regular rate of
pay, the federal minimum wage, or the minimum wage rate
in the applicable state or locality of employment. However,
paid leave provided for these purposes is capped at $511
per day and $5,110 total per employee. For caregiving and
other needs, the employer must compensate the employee at


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