Families First Coronavirus Response Act Explained for Employers 

Mar 26, 2020 at 11:20 am by pj




First, let me start by saying that any information given prior to 3/25 on the FCCRA is most likely not accurate - including information given by me. All information you are taking advice from should have a date stamp of 3/25 or later. Why? The Department of Labor clarified a lot of info on 3/24 then again on 3/25 including changing the effective date of this new law to 4/1 (so it is neither March 18 nor April 2 as originally stated). Many other items have been clarified as well. 


Second, there are only 6 reasons an employee can get paid leave up to 80 hours (there are caps), while the employer gets a tax credit for this on their quarterly payroll tax return. This startApril 1 and ends December 31 (as of now). There is not a waiting period for the employee to take the leave per say, they cannot take leave and get the FCCRA paid sick leave before April 1 and the employer cannot submit for the leave tax credit until after the leave is taken. What if the employee was out before April 1 for one of the 6 reasons? Simply follow your normal employer time off policy. 


The 6 reasons are as follows: 

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee: 


  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; 
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; 
  3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis; 
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2); 
  5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or 
  6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury. 


Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for expanded family leave if the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19. 

Note that #1 and #6 have not been clearly defined yet by the DOL or another agency as of 3/26. 

Third, the Department of Labor website has the latest and greatest information and it is somewhat easy to understand.  

  • On March 25, the Department of Labor posted employer fact sheets, required posters for employers to disseminate and Q&A here as well as fact sheets for employees. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic  
  • I have also posted some information my blog that you may find helpful https://thehrlady.com/my-blog 
  • The caps range from $2000 per employee to $12,000 per employee depending on the reason they are taking leave: self-care, medical isolation order or government isolation order; family care or childcare.  
  • Childcare is the costliest (yet credited back through payroll tax) since it can get extended for up to 12 weeks whereas the other reasons are only for up to 80 hours. 
  • Several reasons allow reduction in pay at 67% 
  • Reminder that this DOL information is for the FFCRA law not the stimulus bill (CARE).  


Definitions and additional information: 


What employers must comply with FFCRA? It is important to note that all employers under 1-499 employees must protect jobs (even new hires who have been employed more than 30 calendar days effective April 1) for up to 12 weeks if someone falls under one of the 6 reasons.  

  • The only exception at this time is employers under 50 employees.  
  • The employer might be able to become exempted from the child-care FMLA leave protection and paid leave for weeks 3-12 but they will have to prove it. How? This has not been defined yet. 


Healthcare Providers: As of March 26, we are still missing some information for health care providers and emergency responders, who are exempt from complying with this leave mandate and are also referred to as “essential employees” who can travel to work during a community/ government “stay at home” order. There is no definition yet from the federal level but many are assuming it will be the same definition the FMLA already uses (found here https://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/whd/fmla/3.aspx?Glossary_Word=PROVIDER), however this leaves questions about sending/ keeping non-medical staff home during a government mandated stay at home order (reason #1) 


Essential workers: As defined by homeland security  https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce 


The stimulus bill (CARE) is passing one shape or another so that should also help displaced workers. 


Wendy Sellers, The HR Lady ®  



Offering virtual advice regarding downsizing and other legal compliance for only $500. 

Follow me on LinkedIn as I post more information when it becomes available https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendythehrlady/