Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
President Trump signed the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law on March 18, 2020. Two provisions of FFCRA, effective April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, include the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). These provisions address emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. To offset costs to employers for providing EPSLA and EFMLEA, the FFCRA also provides small and midsize employers (fewer than 500 employees) with dollar-for-dollar refundable tax credits. To qualify for relief outlined in FFCRA, employers and employees must adhere to specific regulations as outlined in a temporary rule and temporary rule correction notice provided by Department of Labor (DOL).
Under the EPSLA, covered employers shall provide up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave at full pay to an eligible employee when the employee is unable to work due to a government-issued quarantine related to Covid-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine. Alternatively, employees who must care for another individual under either of these conditions and are unable to work as a result shall receive partial pay. This includes eligible employees whose child must remain home due to school and child-care facility closures. Under EFMLEA, covered employers shall pay up to ten additional weeks of expanded family and medical leave (ten weeks at partial pay and two weeks unpaid) to eligible employees unable to secure childcare due to covid-19 related closures or unavailability. Special exemptions apply to certain employers with fewer than 50 employees.
Required Documentation for EPSLA and EFMLEA
The U.S. Department of Labor has released guidance on the documentation needed should an employee request COVID-19-related leave under the FFCRA. This documentation must include a signed statement containing the following:
- Employee’s name
- Requested leave date(s)
- Qualifying reason related to COVID-19
- A statement of why employee cannot work or telework
Employers should also document the name of the government entity issuing the quarantine or isolation order or the name of the healthcare provider making the self-isolation recommendation, when applicable. If the employee must request leave as a result of another individual who is subject to quarantine, the employer must document that person’s name and relation to the employee as well.
Additional requirements when applying under EFMLEA include but are not limited to:
- Child’s name and age
- Name of affected school or child-care facility
- A written statement confirming that the eligible parent was unable to secure alternate, suitable care during the qualifying time period.
This new regulation requires employers to keep this documentation for four years, regardless of whether the employee was granted leave or not. Visit the Department of Labor’s website for additional guidance on employer paid leave requirements and a complete list of frequently asked questions (Spanish PDF).
To apply for the COVID-19 related tax credits, the IRS requires employer’s to complete Form 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return). Employer may request an advance payment of COVID-19 related tax credits using Form 7200 (Advance of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19). For more information, please refer to the list of frequently asked questions on the IRS’s website.