FFCRA: Paying Employees for COVID-Related Time OffSubmitted by Mission Financial Planning on September 15th, 2020
Recently, we have been receiving an increasing number of questions related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the language is written for a “one size fits all” scenario and as we know, this is hardly ever the case. As an employer, it will be necessary to make a clear determination regarding the status of your employees (either Full or Part Time/Irregular). For employees, they will need to make clear and accurate determinations regarding the reasons for their absence (sick pay or family leave) and document this accordingly.
The Department of Labor indicates that there are (2) separate Two Week categories:
The first one is for the employee who is sick and/or has been quarantined. This criterion is only for the employee and has nothing to do with family members or caregivers.
If the employee must take a leave of absence because of their own illness or need to quarantine, then the level of compensation under the FFCRA is listed as:
The employee receives 2-weeks of Full Pay at their regular rate of pay. (THIS IS NOT FOR CHILDCARE)
The second category is for the employee who must care for a family member and/or is experiencing symptoms themselves but does not yet have a diagnosis. The key addition here is if the employee must care for a child under 18 whose school or daycare has closed, then they are also eligible for this leave.
This second category is more of a catch-all for “Other” family issues related to COVID.
If an employee has symptoms, but is awaiting test results, then they are eligible to take this leave. If an employee’s family member has COVID, then they can be eligible to take this leave. And, with schools being virtual across the country, this is the big one: If an employee needs to care for a child under 18 whose caregiver or school is closed, they can be eligible for this leave.
The employee receives 2/3 Pay (THIS IS FOR FAMILY LEAVE AND CHILDCARE)
The 10 Week period is in addition to the 2-week period. This 10 week benefit is for a documented NEED to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
In several sources it states that employees should attempt to use accrued vacation or sick time for the initial 2-week period.
We have not seen anything related to a Waiting Period or No-pay period for the first 2 weeks. The only scenario would be if the employer was exempt due to financial hardship and the payments would jeopardize the viability of the business.
An employee staying home to care for a child whose school is closed and/or childcare is unavailable will generally be eligible for the following:
(2) Weeks at 2/3 pay + (10) additional weeks at 2/3 pay
Employees must provide documentation supporting their need for FFCRA leave to the employer as soon as practicable.
A big part of FFCRA is the process of reimbursing employers with tax credits for the cost of providing COVID-related pay. We’ll address those in future posts.
The FFCRA leave provisions are set to expire on December 31, 2020.
As with other programs that have launched during this pandemic, details and eligibility criteria are subject to change. If you have questions or would like to discuss a specific scenario, please contact your HR consultant or call us at Mission Financial Planning today.
Author: Jared Wood