We have just witnessed a major change in the Family Medical Leave Act relating to COVID-19. This may benefit you and your employees. In short, some employees may be entitled to PAID TIME OFF under FMLA and/or PAID SICK LEAVE. This time is paid by you (the employer) and then potentially reimbursable as a tax credit.
If you are an employer of under 500 employees, your compliance is likely required.
We are watching the changes in regulations as well as agency guidance very carefully. This information is very new – the Department of Labor has not updated their website at this time. The bill becomes effective in 15 days. Here is what the bill looks like tonight (March 18, 2020):
- FMLA remains the standard of job-protected leave, but this bill changes compliance, eligibility and pay requirements.
- Employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to comply. This is different than the standard 50 or more employees for other FMLA provision. Employers under 50 may continue to be exempt in the final bill if it would jeopardize the ability of the business to survive.
- Healthcare provider and emergency service employers are likely exempt.
- Employees only have to have worked for you for the last 30 day, not 12 months.
- This version covers employees who are unable to work or telecommute due to lack of other care for a minor child – schools or day cares are closed due to a public health emergency.
- The first 10 days of leave can be unpaid. An employee can use any accrued paid leave to cover those days (vacation, PTO, sick time, etc.).
- After 10 days, full time employees must be paid at 2/3 their regular pay rate, up to $200 per day.
- The calculation is slightly different for part time or variable hour employees. There will be math!
- If you have over 25 employees you will have to follow FMLA regulations regarding job protections unless the position no longer exists due to the emergency.
- The wages are to be paid by the employer. Provided that you comply with the current regulations, you may qualify for a refund in the form of tax credits. These tax credits are against the employer portion of Social Security taxes. You are entitled to a tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified FMLA wages, up to $200 per day and $10,000 per calendar quarter.
- Additional changes in the regulations define paid sick leave. These changes are also substantial and would qualify employers for tax credits as well.
Additional regulations from other entities, like the Treasury Department and the Department of Labor will help us determine exactly how to apply these regulations.
Surviving the Crisis
This can potentially help your employees to stay afloat should they be unable to work under very specific circumstances related to COVID-19. Please note that this is a very new development and we have limited information. There is no precedent for it and no federal or state guidance for it at this time. The bill is effective on April 2, 2020.
Feel free to contact the Awesome HR Team for help! We’ll keep you up to date. Hang in there – some relief may be around the corner. The Coronavirus Response Act offers some additional benefits outside of FMLA that we may be able to help you and your employees explore.
Please note: The content of this website has been prepared by Organizology, LLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We hope that you will find the information informative and useful, and we are happy to help guide you through your specific circumstances.