Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) has many provisions to assist the country in this time of pandemic, the focus here will be only on emergency sick leave and the temporary changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). These provisions are in effect from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Due to the brevity of time, the Department of Labor issued a temporary stay of enforcement until after April 17, 2020.
Those eligible for the new emergency sick leave benefit include those employed by local, state, and federal government, employees at companies with fewer than 500 employees, and employees who work under or pay into a multiemployer collective agreement (pension plan). There are some exemptions for eligibility but for this discussion, a school district is either a political subdivision or part of a city or state government and would be covered by the FFCRA.
Qualifying Reason, Duration of Leave and Calculation of Pay
If the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave because the employee: is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis, then a full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the average number of hours worked in a two-week period. Employees taking leave for one of these qualified reasons are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.
If the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave because the employee is caring for an individual subject to an order related to or self-quarantined due to COVID-19 then the duration of leave is the same as above, but are only entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for the two week period.
If the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave because the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at 40 hours a week if full-time, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period. Employees taking leave for this reason are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate for the 12-week period.
This act has many facets to it and a formal reading is required to implement the measures outlined but here are some final points. The employer will bear the initial cost of the sick leave but will get reimbursed through tax credit. Notice needs to be hung on a wall, however, since most are not currently in a physical building, email or regular mail are acceptable forms of notification to employees. This sick leave is in addition to whatever sick leave your organization already has in place.
For more assistance the Department of Labor (DOL) has Fact Sheets, FAQs, Posters, and Field Assistance on its COVID-19 and the American Workplace site. The DOL has also issued regulations regarding the FFCRA as well.