Two Relief Acts related to the COVID-19 pandemic have recently been enacted. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was first signed into law then followed by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). There is so much information being distributed by various entities, it is at times, difficult to get a handle on these new laws. I have found several handouts on these recent changes useful and easy to follow. Links to these documents are below.
Before you dive into the details of each Act, below is my attempt to offer a general overview of the primary items that will impact most employers.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The FFCRA has two portions and will be in effect from April 1 until December 31, 2020.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
- Allows 12 weeks of partially compensated FMLA leave to care for a child whose school has been closed due to COVID-19.
- Requires employers to partially compensate at a rate of two-thirds of employee’s regular pay after 10 days.
- Maximum rate of pay is $200 per day or $10,000 total.
- Employees may use accrued vacation, personal or sick leave for the unpaid period.
- Applies to workers who have been employed by their current employer for 30 days.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
- Provides full-time employees up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for specific reasons caused by COVID-19.
- Employers may NOT require employees to use other paid leave before using this paid leave.
- Employers must pay employee their regular rate of pay up to $511 per day, if employee is taking leave
- Related to their own symptoms
- If exposed to COVID-19
- Employees taking leave to care for family member are entitled to two-thirds of regular rate of pay up to $200 per day
- Caring for a family member with COVID-19.
- Caring for a child because the child’s school is closed due to COVID-19.
- All employees are covered regardless of the length of time with their current employer.
- Employers may choose not to provide paid sick leave to employees who are health care workers or emergency responders.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
The CARES Act provides $2.2 trillion in federal funding to address the COVID-19 crisis.
Significant Provisions Affecting Businesses:
- $367 billion made available in loans to small businesses and $150 billion for state and local governments.
- The loans will be forgiven so long as businesses pledge not to lay off their workers.
- Loans will be available during an emergency period ending June 30.
- Small businesses, under 500 employees, may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50% of wages paid during the crisis, so long as they keep their employees employed throughout.
- Employers can defer the 6.2% tax they pay on wages used to fund Social Security.
Significant Provisions Affecting Individuals:
- Rebate checks of $1200 per filing adult and $500 for each qualifying child.
- Income caps of $75,000 for single and $150,000 for married couples.
- Rebates will start to phase out for those making more than $75,000.
- Those with incomes above $99,000 will not qualify for a payment.
- Unemployed individuals, including freelancers and furloughed employees, will get an extra $600 per week for up to four months on top of state unemployment benefits.
Again, my intent with this memo is to provide a high level overview of the newly passed legislation. The attached handouts include much more detail, some with flow charts. We will provide more information as it becomes available. Feel free to ask questions and we will navigate through these changes together.
Document (PDF) Links:
- Legal Update: Coronavirus Paid Leave
- Compliance Bulletin: FFCRA Requirements & Overview
- Compliance Bulletin: Tax Credits Due to Coronavirus
- Infographic: Understanding the FFCRA
- Legal Update: CARES Act Expands Health Coverage Rules
- COVID-19 Scenarios & Benefit Implications
- Understanding the Historic $2 Trillion Stimulus Package
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