The President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act yesterday. See the new Act here. It amends the Family Medical Leave Act. The FFCRA applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. This provision may cause confusion, since the FMLA itself applies to employers with more than 50 employees.

The FFCRA covers part-time and full-time employees who have been on the payroll for 30 or more calendar days. Covered employees may take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave due to a “public health emergency.”  The qualifying need is defined as the need to care for a minor child if the school has been closed and if the employee cannot work from home.

The first ten days of the leave are unpaid, but the worker can use any sick leave that is available. Then, the worker will be paid up to 2/3 of the worker’s regular rate, adjusting for the number of hours the employee normally works – for up to ten weeks. Employers with less than 25 employees are exempt from damages in a lawsuit, if the position no longer exists due a public health emergency. The law provides for tax credits for any employers who provide paid emergency leave. This amendment to the FMLA expires Dec. 31, 2020. See Sec. 3101.

The FFCRA also provides that the federal government will fund 26 weeks of additional unemployment benefits for states if the unemployment rate rises 10 percentage points over the prior year in that state. See Sec. 4101.

Under a separate section, the statute also requires an employer to provide ten days of paid sick leave for full-time employees and the equivalent number of hours for a part-time worker. See Sec. 5101.