The Families First Coronavirus Response Act's (FFCRA's) emergency paid-leave provisions apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but there are exceptions available for small businesses and companies that employ health care workers.
The legislation updates the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide workers with up to an additional 10 weeks of job-protected paid leave when they can't work—either onsite or remotely—because their minor son's or daughter's school or child care service is closed due to the public health emergency. These provisions take effect April 1 and expire on Dec. 31.
The act will not be applied retroactively, and employers cannot deny paid sick leave to workers who were already provided leave for a qualifying reason before the act's effective date, according to the DOL.
FFCRA also provides for payroll tax credits to employers to cover the cost of providing paid leave to employees under the sick-leave and family-leave programs, noted Linda Jackson, an attorney with Arent Fox in Washington, D.C.
"The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while at the same time reimbursing businesses," the DOL said.
But many employers and workers are confused about how to apply the law or access its benefits. "Given that this law is brand new and was expeditiously created by Congress—meaning that it was written in a short period of time and may not have sufficient guidance on every part of its requirements—it is important to stay alert for updates and guidance," said Jason Reisman, an attorney with Blank Rome in Philadelphia, when the bill was signed into law.