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Help for Employees Affected by Coronavirus/COVID-19!

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Mar 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

On March 14, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA, H.R. 6201), in part to expand protections for employees affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On March 18, the Senate passed the FFCRA by a vote of 90-8 and the bill was signed into law by President Trump. The provisions will take effect within a couple of weeks, and we expect by then that regulations will have been developed to gap-fill the missing pieces.

Here's what we know for now, and what you need to know about the FFCRA (subject to updates):

What Will the FFCRA Do for Employees?

Through December 31st, 2020, the FFCRA will do 2 main things for employees

1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave: applies to ALL employees, regardless of length of employment or full- or part-time status, if they unable to work or telework because of COVID-19 as outlined below.

Covered employers will be required to pay eligible employees for up to 10 days of sick leave at their regular rate of pay for their regular number of work hours (up to $511 per day, $5,110 max) if they require self care because: 

  • Quarantined by government order related to COVID-19
  • Quarantined by healthcare provider because of COVID-19
  • Seeking care or diagnosis because of COVID-19 symptoms

Covered employers will also be required to pay eligible employees ⅔ of their regular rate of pay (up to $200 per day, $2,000 max) for up to 10 days of sick leave to care for a covered family member if such family member is: 

  • Quarantined by government order related to COVID-19
  • Quarantined by healthcare provider because of COVID-19
  • A child under 18 in need of care when childcare is unavailable because of COVID-19

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave is in addition to any paid sick leave the employer may already provide, and failure of employees to comply is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. There is also an anti-retaliation provision that will help protect employees from termination for requesting this relief.


2. Emergency Expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

Covered employers will have to provide eligible employees who are unable to work or telework up to 2 weeks of unpaid leave and up to 10 additional weeks of paid leave for those who have a son or daughter under 18, the school or place of care for the child has been closed, or the child care provider for the child is unavailable because of COVID-19.

  • Eligible employees under the FMLA expansion need only have been working for 30 calendar days.
  • Although the first 10 days of FMLA leave is unpaid, the employee can elect to be paid for that period from any available accrued paid leave, such as vacation time, personal time, medical leave or sick time, or the emergency paid sick leave at ⅔ their regular rate of pay, as outlined above, up to $2,000. 
  • The 10-week FMLA extension for childcare is paid at ⅔ the employee's regular rate, up to $200 per day, $10,000 max.
  • For employees with varying hours, the pay rate will likely be based on a 6-month average.

In general, an employer must also make reasonable efforts to restore an employee to an equivalent position when the employee returns to work, with some exceptions for employers with fewer than 25 employees.

Which Employers are Covered Employers that Have to Comply with FFCRA?

Employers with fewer than 500 employees are subject to the FFCRA, but certain healthcare providers and emergency responders may be excluded as their continued aid will continue to be necessary. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may not be subject to certain penalties, and those with fewer than 25 employees may not be subject to certain provisions like the job restoration requirement if the viability of the business is threatened.


In addition to the FFCRA, the Georgia Department of Labor has just released new information about filing for unemployment online versus in person and mandatory filing by employers for partial claims where hours have been cut or work has been halted temporarily. For more information click here.

Questions? Please call us at 404-487-0903, our attorneys are available Monday through Friday from 9AM until 5PM and we will be happy to speak with you.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany who helps potential clients understand the law, clarify their rights, and determine which steps they can take to protect themselves and their jobs.

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When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

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