By Jim Bea Sampaga
With businesses greatly affected due to COVID-19 pandemic, some employees are given reduced hours or even laid-off while others have no choice but to work as the country declares stay-at-home orders to help reduce the transmission of the virus.
According to the US Department of Labor (DOL) website, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will require employers to “provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.”
The FFCRA will reimburse businesses that have fewer than 500 employees for the cost of providing paid sick leave to its employees during the pandemic.
The legislation ensures that “workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus, while at the same time reimbursing businesses.”
According to the DOL website, the FFCRA requires employers to provide the following to their employees:
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular pay rate when the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay rate when the employee is unable to work because they need to care for an individual subject to quarantine or care for a child who’s out of school because of school closures
- Up to additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay rate where an employee is unable to work because they need to care for a child whose school is closed because of COVID-19
Employees with reduced work hours will not be eligible to receive paid sick leave or expanded family leave. However, they can apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
Every dollar spent by the employer on the required paid leave (and the cost of the employer’s health insurance premiums during leave) will be 100% covered by a dollar-for-dollar refundable tax credit available to the employer.
For more information about FFCRA, visit dol.gov/ agencies/whd/pandemic.