As we sit amid a continuing health pandemic and crisis due to the spread of COVID-19, many St. Louis area schools have announced that the 2020-2021 school year will start 100% virtually and will continue that way through at least mid-October. This leaves many parents unable to work due to child care issues and the need to supervise their children’s remote learning.
In March 2020, in response to abrupt school closures resulting from the spread of COVID-19, the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLA”) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”), were enacted to require paid leave to certain employees unable to work due to child care issues. This blog summarizes the key provisions of the FFRCA, including both employee and employer rights.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides that all employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide employees up to 80 hours of paid sick time over a two-week period if the employee is unable to work or telework because one of the following exist:
(a) the employee is subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
(b) the employee is experience symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a diagnosis;
(c) the employee is caring for someone who is under the conditions described in (a);
(d) the employee is caring for a child if the child’s school is closed or if the child care provider is unavailable.
Under this Act, if leave is as a result of (a) or (b) above, the employee is entitled to their regular rate of pay at the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work, capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. For purposes of situations (c) and (d) above, the employee is entitled to pay at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay, capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.
The EFMLA applies to employees of a business with fewer than 500 employees (a “covered employee”) and extends the Family Medical Leave Act to apply to covered employees who are unable to work or telework due to a need for leave to care for a child following a school closure. Under the EFMLA, the covered employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave, some of which may be unpaid and some paid. Certain employers with 50 or fewer employees may be exempt from paid leave provisions if the employer can demonstrate that imposing the provisions of the EFMLA may jeopardize the viability of the business.
Under the EFMLA, the first two weeks of leave granted to the covered employee are unpaid. The last ten weeks of leave are paid at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay, capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in total. An employer may require the employee to exhaust employer-provided accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or sick leave before the employer is required to provide the paid leave under the EFMLA.
Many employees may be entitled to paid leave under either the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act or the EFMLA. You should discuss with your employer what policies the employer has adopted in applying the provisions of the FFCRA laws, or check with the Department of Labor to determine if you are eligible.