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Emergency Sick Leave for Childcare: What Employers Need to Know About FFCRA

UPDATE September 2: The Department of Labor have issued guidance clarifying that “FFCRA leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance”. Therefore FFCRA leave can only be taken for a child’s remote, online learning when this is the only teaching option provided.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a big part of the government response to the current public health crisis, offering emergency sick leave and paid family medical leave to those affected by Coronavirus. Take a look at our guide on managing employee leave scenarios.

The FFRCA doesn’t just apply to employees who are directly affected by the virus—those who are infected, caring for the infected or quarantined. It also puts in place measures for the parents or guardians of children whose schools or day care facilities are closed due to the pandemic.

These measures will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

How Does the FFCRA Work for Parents?

If an employee has been on payroll for at least 30 days and cannot work because of the closure of their child’s school or day care facility, they are entitled to claim:

  • 2 Weeks of Emergency Sick Pay, paid at 2/3 of their usual rate up to $200 daily or $2,000 total. Note: an employee can choose to receive existing sick leave, PTO or vacation days instead

    At the same time, they will qualify for 2 weeks FMLA unpaid leave, with job protection

  • 10 Weeks of FMLA leave paid at 2/3 of normal salary up to $200 daily or $10,000 total

If an employee has worked for fewer than 30 days, they are entitled to claim:

  • 2 Weeks of Emergency Sick Pay, paid at 2/3 of their usual rate up to $200 daily or $2,000 total

Once an employee has worked 30 days, they will be able to claim:

  • 12 Weeks of FMLA leave, with the first two weeks unpaid, though the employee can choose to use existing sick leave, PTO or vacation days

    The following 10 weeks are paid at 2/3 of normal salary up to $200 daily or $10,000 total

Part-time employees are eligible for leave covering the normal number of hours they would be scheduled to work over the period of leave.

NOTE: If an employee has already exhausted their FMLA leave for the year, they are not entitled to further leave.

What Employees Are Covered With Emergency Sick Leave?

Employees are eligible if they work for private sector companies with fewer than 500 employees or certain public sector employers—with the exception of healthcare providers and emergency responders.

However, if an employer has fewer than 50 employees, they may be exempt if providing paid leave would jeopardize the viability of their business. (Watch out though: this exemption only applies to leave due to childcare, not when an employee or a family member has the disease.) Businesses with under 25 employees may also be exempt from reinstating employees to their positions after leave, under certain conditions.

Intermittent Leave

In general, an employee is not covered if they are able to work remotely. However, if an employee is able to work sometimes, just not all the time, an employer can offer intermittent leave, with any agreed-upon schedule. For instance, an employee could take leave for the first half of their scheduled shifts and telework for the second half.

However, if an employee is working on-site (rather than remotely), any intermittent leave must be taken in increments with a minimum length of a day, to prevent any possible spread of the virus.

If either case emergency paid sick leave or expanded FMLA would be paid proportionally to time taken as leave.

How Will Businesses Be Compensated?

Businesses will be able to offset the costs of these measures with new tax credits against the employer’s federal tax obligations. Read official IRS guidance here.

Companies must retain all appropriate documentation related to the leave for up to 4 years. This includes proof that their child’s school or day care provider has been closed—this could be an online or newspaper notice of closure, or a letter of email from the relevant authorities.

It’s important to let employees know about how the new legislation affects them. One easy way is to distribute this poster, created by the Department of Labor, explaining employee rights under FFCRA.

What is Paycor doing to help?

Paycor’s Payroll solution now includes three new earnings codes and three new accrual codes to provide tax credits under the Coronavirus Response Act.

Paycor clients will need to add the new earning codes to affected employees and assign accrual codes to applicable employees.

To learn more about Paycor’s Payroll solution, click the button below for a self-guided tour.