Qualifying for Paid Family Leave
To address the current health emergency, the Act amends the FMLA to include employers and employees who would not otherwise be covered. It also expands the reasons employees can seek job-protected leave to include care for minor children whose school or care facility closed due to the public health emergency.
Whereas the FMLA has exempted employers with fewer than 50 employees, the new Act eliminates this threshold for purposes of leave due to the public health emergency. The definition of “eligible employees” under FMLA was also expanded. Employees who have worked for an employer for 30 calendar days or more are now eligible for leave related to the public health emergency, but not for other forms of FMLA leave.
Under the Act, employers must offer ten weeks of paid family leave (12 weeks total) for an employee with a minor child who is unable to work (or telework) in the event of the closure of the child’s school or place of care due to COVID-19 precautions.
Again, 100% of employer costs are offset for providing this mandated paid family leave. Under the expanded paid family leave provision, the benefits are as follows:
- The first 10 days are unpaid, but the employee can use the 10 days of paid sick leave during this time.
- The benefit must replace at least two-thirds of the employee’s wages up to a maximum of $200 per day (and $10,000 in aggregate) and reflect the number of hours an employee would otherwise be normally scheduled to work.
- This 12 week period does not extend any time under the FMLA act, it simply adds another reason for leave and specifies payment.
- The Act allows an employer of an employee who is a health care provider or an emergency responder to elect out of providing paid family leave to these employees.
- The Labor Department will have the authority to exempt from the paid family leave requirement small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the requirement to provide leave would jeopardize the viability of the business.
In addition to these two big changes, the Act also protects those employees who are laid-off or furloughed as businesses begin shutting down or reducing hours. The Act allocates $1 billion to states’ unemployment insurance funds. To receive access to portions of the grant, states must, among other things, make it easier for individuals to obtain unemployment compensation by waiving work search requirements and waiting periods.
Employers are required to notify laid-off workers of their potential unemployment insurance eligibility.