Changes to federal law in light of the COVID-19 situation have created new obligations for many employers. This alert summarizes the new obligations for employers. The obligations, however, will be different for each employer and even each employee, so it is important to get more specific guidance about what your business may be required to do for your employees. In addition, because this is new legislation that was drafted and passed quickly, there are many unanswered questions about how to implement some of these provisions.
The portions of the “Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act” of primary interest to employers are the provisions that provide (1) enhanced leave entitlements under the “standard” Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and (2) paid sick leave. It is important to note that these changes are temporary and solely related to the current COVID-19 situation. Moreover, this law does not require employers to provide either form of paid leave to employees who are unable to work solely because of an office closure; employees must meet certain requirements to be eligible for these forms of paid leave.
Very broadly, any employer with up to 499 employees must provide up to 12 weeks of FMLA-like leave to employees who are unable to work in order to care for a minor child of that employee whose elementary or secondary school has closed or whose child care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19. Up to 10 weeks of this leave must be paid at the equivalent of two-thirds of the employee’s usual rate of pay, capped at $200 per day/$10,000 total for each employee.
In addition, employers with up to 499 employees must provide up to 10 days (80 hours) of paid sick leave to a broader group of eligible employees; it is not limited to those who cannot work because of a minor child’s school or daycare closure. This amount of the sick leave pay is dependent upon the reason for the leave and is also capped at a maximum of $511 or $200 per day, depending on the reason for the leave.
The law also provides for tax credits for employers who are required to pay employees for either of these provisions. The tax credits are provided against the employer’s portion of Social Security taxes.
For more detailed analysis or application of these requirements to your business and your employees, please reach out to your General Counsel, P.C. point of contact or directly to Amy Muhlendorf at firstname.lastname@example.org.