UPDATE 3/27/2020 12:45pm PST: In an effort to keep you informed due to the ever changing landscape, please review the Q&A released by the U.S. Department of Labor as it focuses on the new emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and emergency paid Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA). There will be further releases to discuss the exemption that all dental and optometric practices are waiting for but this is a good start. Please also note, the DOL has clarified the effective date is April 1st, 2020 and not April 2nd, 2020.
Watch the video where we share vital updates from the Department of Labor about H.R. 6201 the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Signed by the president on March 18, 2020, the new law takes effect on April 1, 2020 and will remain effective until December 31, 2020. The most noteworthy provisions in the Act are the expanded Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave provisions which apply to all employers with fewer than 500 employees, although employers with fewer than 50 employees may be deemed exempt by the Secretary of Labor if the Act would jeopardize the business’s viability.
In addition, there are potential exemptions for healthcare providers which may include medical, dental, and optometry practices. Clarifying language and revisions are being worked on currently and we are hopeful that there will be a clearer ruling on this exemption soon.
Emergency Family & Medical Leave Expansion Act
The Emergency FMLA Expansion Act amends the FMLA and creates a new leave entitlement. During this temporary expansion of the FMLA, the definition of an employer includes all employers with fewer than 500 employees, and expands the definition of a covered employee to include all employees who have worked for their employer for at least 30 days.
Beginning on April 1, 2020, an eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of leave if they are unable to work (including telework) because their child’s school or place of care has been closed, or their child care provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.
Length & Pay for Leave: Up to 12 weeks of protected leave (all employers with fewer than 500 employees, if they are not exempt from these requirements)
- The first 2 weeks are unpaid although an employee may choose to use any available sick leave, vacation, or PTO. However, employers may not require employees to use such time.
- The remaining 10 weeks are paid by the employer at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled to work. In no event shall such paid leave exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
All employees are eligible for paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, regardless of the length of time they have worked for their employer. All eligible employees may use paid sick time beginning on April 1, 2020 and cannot be required to first use other available paid leave before using paid sick leave under the Act. This leave is in addition to any paid sick leave or PTO currently provided by employers. An eligible employee may take paid sick leave if they are unable to work (including telework) due to one of the following six reasons:
- The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19;
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19;
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order or quarantine;
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions; or
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
Pay for Employees on Emergency Sick Leave:
- For full-time employees, 80 hours.
- For part-time employees, the number of hours that employee usually works, on average, over a 2-week period. For example, if your office manager works 30 hours per week, they would be entitled to 60 hours of sick leave.
The biggest thing to remember right now is that the Secretary of Labor has the authority to exempt healthcare providers which may include medical, dental, and optometry practices along with small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the Act would jeopardize the business’s viability. We are still waiting on further clarifications on these exemptions.
We are sharing everything we know thus far about the Act and will not have additional information until agency guidance has been released, which may take some time. We will update you as soon as we have more information, and we encourage you to check our FAQ blog in the meantime.
If you are a current HR for Health client and have additional questions, please reach out to our team by calling 877-779-4747. Please keep in mind that due to an influx in questions related to the COVID-19 outbreak, our response time may be slower than usual but we will get back to you as soon as we can!
If you are not a current HR for Health client and have additional questions, please schedule an HR consultation with us by booking time here or calling us at 877-779-4747, option 1.
HR for Health is one of the nation’s leading Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) used by small to mid-sized practices. HR for Health has provided the following complimentary articles to ensure you have a game plan when addressing complex HR matters.
Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services