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Can you summarize the new Coronavirus Federal Sick Leave legislation?

On March 23, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (or FFCRA), which provides a wide range of assistance to employees during the COVID-19 crisis through changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Act provides, among other things, for paid sick leave and free Coronavirus testing, expands food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requires employers to provide additional protections for healthcare workers.

The law applies to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020 and will have a significant impact on employers that are not subject to two new paid-leave requirements. According to an article by Foulston Attorneys at Law, employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide the following benefits to eligible employees:

  • up to 2 weeks of sick leave for an employee who is subject to quarantine or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, is caring for someone who is quarantined or ill, or is caring for a child who cannot go to school
  • up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for an employee to care for a child who cannot go to school or daycare because of COVID-19. Employers will be subsidized for the paid leave through tax credits.

For paid sick leave, employers must pay full-time employees for 80 hours of work and part-time employees for the average number of hours they work over a two-week period. For those employees caring for another person, their pay rate is two-thirds of their regular rate of pay.

For paid FMLA childcare leave, employers must allow their employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for children out of school or daycare. The first ten days may be unpaid, but after that period, employers must pay employees an amount not less than two-thirds of their regular rate of pay and number of work hours. The Act also establishes requirements for providing coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost to consumers. The Act does not, however, include provisions for covering coronavirus treatment.