The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently signed into law provides a one-time payment, among other items, to individuals to help ease the economic strain caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is a new program that offers COVID-19 assistance for both employees and employers.
This new law provides businesses with fewer than 500 employees the funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.
Here is a summary of the new law’s benefits for employees and employers:
- Paid sick leave for workers. The new law provides employees of eligible employers two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at 100% of the employee’s pay ($510 daily limit applies) where the employee can’t work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Paid leave for workers. Employees can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of leave at two-thirds of the employee’s pay ($200 daily limit applies) if they need to care for someone in the following situations: The need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, to care for a child whose school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Extended leave. In some instances, an employee may receive up to an additional ten weeks of expanded paid family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s pay ($12,000 overall twelve week payment limit applies).
- Companies will get paid back. Businesses who pay employees the mandatory sick and childcare leave according to the new law will get reimbursed through a payroll tax credit.
What it means for you
- Employees can take the necessary time to recover from being infected with COVID-19, or to care for a loved one, without fear of losing their job or salary.
- Employers can help their employees financially while navigating COVID-19 related shutdowns.
What you need to do now
EMPLOYEES. To take advantage of the Act’s paid leave provisions, you must provide your employer with documentation in support of your paid sick leave. There is yet no official application that needs to be completed. If you believe that your employer is required to provide paid leave but is not making paid leave available, or for other questions or concerns, you may call the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-4US-WAGE or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.
EMPLOYERS. While the details are being worked out on how to implement these new rules, here is what you need to do now:
- Keep detailed records – Be prepared to defend your request for federal assistance. Keep good records of who’s asked for paid time off because of COVID-19 related circumstances. Ask your employee to provide a doctor’s note when appropriate, along with a narrative written by the employee describing who in their family is infected or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 along with symptoms. Make sure the note is dated and relates to an approved reason for leave.
- Talk to your payroll provider – If you have someone doing your payroll, they are often the first ones who will know how you will receive reimbursement. This new law will take time to fully roll out. Payroll companies will eventually issue guidance on how to report paid leave provided under the Families First Act and which forms need to be completed to obtain the corresponding tax credits.
- Post this notice! – Employers MUST post a notice of the Families First labor requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. Click here to download and print this notice.
- E-mail the notice! – An employer may satisfy the posting requirement by e-mailing or direct mailing the notice to employees, or by posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. If your employees are working from home, this may be the only way to let them know the benefit exists.
Remember, there are upper limits to compensation that you may need to review and there are many other federal programs being rolled out. It will take time to implement them. Be patient, be safe and stay alert for any updates.