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DOL Guidance – Employer Paid Leave Requirements in the FFCRA

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance on the paid leave requirements under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The FFCRA expanded the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to allow partially compensated employee leave for child care purposes related to COVID-19. The FFCRA also provided for employee paid sick leave for specific COVID-19-related reasons. The law included other measures to address the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on workers.

The guidance addresses issues such as:

  • Which employers and employees are covered under the FFCRA;
  • How much leave employers are required to grant employees and for what pay;
  • Exemptions from certain provisions of the FFCRA may be available to employers with fewer than 50 employees; and
  • What tax credits are available to employers to pay for the leave.

The language of the FFCRA said it would take effect “not later than 15 days after the date of enactment.” DOL Q&As clarify that the leave provisions of the law take effect on April 1, 2020.


Overview

The FFCRA requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. The language of the FFCRA said it would take effect “not later than 15 days after the date of enactment.” DOL Q&As clarify that the leave provisions of the law take effect on April 1, 2020.

In general, the FFCRA requires covered employers to provide the following to all employees:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at an 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 paid sick leave at two-thirds an employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work because of a bona fide 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 18 years of age) 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.

In addition, a covered employer must provide the following to employees whom it has employed for at least 30 days:

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

Covered Employers

The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Small 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 the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.

Most employees of the federal government are not covered by the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. However, federal employees covered by Title II of the FMLA are covered by the FFCRA’s paid sick leave provision.