FAQ: Families First Act

Including Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA

The federal government recently passed the Families First Act, which will be effective April 2-December 31, 2020. This legislation provides substantial relief to public employees as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis. It covers emergency paid sick leave and emergency FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). Here are some key questions and answers related to the Families First Act.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Who is eligible?

All employees of public sector employees and employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees. Includes all employees regardless of service time. Also includes seasonal and temporary employees.

When can I take emergency paid sick leave?

Leave is available immediately, regardless of service time.

What are the requirements for using leave?

If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis, if you have been advised by a medical professional to self-quarantine, or if you are under an isolation order issued by a federal, state, or local government agency. If you are caring for someone who is under an isolation order or who has been advised to self-quarantine. If you are caring for your child whose school or childcare provider has been closed or is unavailable due to COVID-19.

How much emergency paid sick leave am I entitled to?

Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours (equivalent of 10 eight-hour days) of paid sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to the average number of hours they work in a two-week period. For variable schedule part-time employees, leave is calculated on the number of hours per day they were scheduled over the previous six months.

How much will I be paid while on emergency paid sick leave?

For leave related to an employee’s quarantine or illness, compensation is the full rate of pay, up to a maximum of $511 per day and with a cap of $5,110. For leave related to caring for another individual, compensation is two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay, up to $200 per day and with a cap of $2,000.

Do I have to use my existing paid leave before taking emergency paid sick leave?

No. Emergency leave may be used before existing paid leave. Employers are prohibited from requiring employees to use existing paid leave before emergency paid sick leave.

Am I required to find a substitute/replacement worker?

No. Employers cannot require employees to find a replacement worker as a condition for granting emergency paid leave.

Can my employer penalize me for taking emergency paid sick leave?

No. Employees are protected from retaliation by employers for using emergency paid sick leave.

Can I carry over emergency paid sick leave?

No. Emergency leave does not carry over from one year to the next and will not be paid out at the end of your employment.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Expansion Act

Who is eligible for Emergency FMLA?

Employees working for a public sector employer (with the exception of most federal government employees) or employees working for a private sector employer with less than 500 employees. You must have been employed for at least 30 days (as opposed to the 12 month requirement for regular FMLA).

What are the requirements for using Emergency FMLA?

Employees who are unable to work due to a need to care for their child (under 18) whose school or childcare provider has been closed or is unavailable because of COVID-19.

How much Emergency FMLA leave can I take?

Up to 12 weeks. The first two weeks may be unpaid, but an employee may elect to use accrued vacation, sick, or personal leave, including emergency paid sick leave. Employers cannot require use of other paid leave during this two week period.

How much will I be paid during Emergency FMLA leave?

After the first two weeks, full-time employees will be paid not less than two-thirds of their regular rate of pay, with a maximum of $200 per day and a cap of $10,000.  For part-time employees, pay is equal to the average number of hours per day they were scheduled to work over the previous six months.

Is my job protected if I take Emergency FMLA leave?

In most cases. As with regular FMLA, employees who take leave are entitled to be restored to their position or an equivalent position with equivalent terms and benefits upon returning to work. There is an exception for employers with fewer than 25 employees should the position no longer exist. However, employers in this situation are required to make a reasonable effort to restore the employee to an equivalent position over a one year period.