As you may know by now, on March 19, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which has a significant impact on surgery centers regarding employee leaves of absence.
Generally, these programs currently are effective April 2, 2020, and run through December 31, 2020. Our executive team has compiled a summary of the bill as we understand it. Please know we are not attorneys, and this is not legal advice.
Here is our summary of the benefits the Act provides for employees:
Emergency Paid Sick Leave (“EPSL”)
- Requires employers with fewer than 500 employees, to provide paid sick leave if the employee cannot work or telework, due to COVID-19.
- The COVID-19 impact might be directly on the employee or on a son or daughter, under the care of the employee, who cannot attend school or daycare.
- Employees are automatically entitled to EPSL regardless of how long they have been employed.
- If time off is taken for self-care, employees must be compensated at the higher rate of (1) the employee’s regular rate of pay, (2) federal minimum wage, or (3) the local minimum wage.
- This pay is capped at $511 per day with a total limit of $5,110.
- If time off is taken to care for a sick family member or a child who is not in school, employees must receive at least two-thirds of their regular rate of pay.
- This pay is capped at $200 per day with a $2,000 total.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLA”)
- Applies only to child care disruption.
- Expands FMLA on a temporary basis for employers with fewer than 500 employees.
- Allows for up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for each employee that has been on the payroll for at least 30 calendar days.
- The leave must be related to the impact of COVID-19.
- An employee qualifies for the protected leave when the employee is unable to work or telework due to the need to care for a minor child if either the child’s school or place of childcare has been closed or is unavailable.
- Two distinct timeframes to consider:
- 1) The first 2 weeks
- 2) the remaining 10 weeks.
- EFMLA is about “job-protected” leave for up to 12 weeks; and it’s also about pay to employees on leave for weeks 3 through 12. (EPSL, described above, addresses pay during the first 2 weeks.)
- During weeks 3 through 12, an employee on leave is paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular pay for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work. For employees with fluctuating weekly working hours, the employer must utilize the average over a 6-month period.
- The EFMLA paid leave is capped at no more than $200 per day and $10,000 in total.
- An employer may not require an employee to use other employer-provided paid leave before the employee utilizes EPSL.
- As stated above, EFMLA and EPSL do not apply to employers with more than 500 employees.
- Employers of health care providers (doctors and others that HHS deems a provider of health care) may elect not to provide this leave to those employees.
- Employers with less than 25 employers do not need to protect a job that is eliminated due to a downturn in business (but there are strict requirements to be able to prove this.
- The Act includes tax credits to partially ease the financial burden of compliance. Paid leave expenses incurred each calendar quarter may be credited against the employer portion of the FICA tax, up to the full amount of that tax due each quarter. Please confer with your tax accountant for details.
Tom Jacobs and Rita Hernandez Figi will be discussing this further on our live Q&A next Tuesday, March 24. Click here to register.