FAQ: What you need to know about Families First Coronavirus Response Act for New Mexicans

Coronavirus Resources

President Trump officially signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18, 2020. Below are some general frequently asked questions about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Visit the Department of Labor’s website to review their full list of frequently asked questions for employers and employees.


General Questions


Q: What is the Families First Coroanvirus Response Act?

A: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. 

Q: What does the act provide for employees?

A: Generally, the Act provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Q: When does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act take effect?

A: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect on April 1, 2020. The Department of Labor set April 1 as the effective date, meaning that the FFCRA will apply to leave taken between April 1 and December 31, 2020.

Q: Does the FFCRA convert the Family Medical Leave Act into a paid leave program?

A: No. The Department of Labor states that the FMLA has not been converted into a paid leave program and that the only type of family and medical leave that is paid leave is under the expanded family and medical leave law under FFCRA which sunsets on December 31, 2020.

Q: Does the FFCRA allow an employee to telework?

A: If an employer permits it, an employee may telework or work at a location other than their normal workplace. Employers must pay their employees who are working remotely their normal wages and such employees would not be entitled to benefits under the FFCRA.

Q: If I am or become unable to telework, am I entitled to paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

A: If your employer permits teleworking, and you are unable to perform those tasks or work the required hours because of one of the qualifying reasons for paid sick leave, then you are entitled to take paid sick leave. 

If you are unable to perform those teleworking tasks or work the required teleworking hours because you need to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, then you are entitled to take expanded family and medical leave. 

Q: Who does the FFCRA cover?

A: The FFCRA covers private employers with fewer than 500 employees in the United States, the District of Columbia, or any Territory or possession of the United States.


Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act


Q: Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (which is part of the FFCRA) how much paid leave must employers provide?

A:  Full-time employees are entitled to a maximum of 80 hours over a two-week period and part-time employees are entitled to a number of hours equal to the number of hours that the employee normally works over a two-week period. However, the benefits are capped at certain amounts per employee.

Q: Who is eligible for paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act?

A:  All employees of private employers with less than 500 employees, regardless of how long they’ve been employed, are eligible for emergency paid sick leave. Employees are entitled to emergency paid sick leave if (and only if) they are:

  1. Subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. Advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  3. Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis;
  4. Caring for an individual subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  5. They must care for their child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency;
  6. They experience 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.

Q: Can an employee take 80 hours of paid sick leave for themselves and then take additional leave time for another reason?

A: No, an employee may take up to two weeks—or ten days—(80 hours for a full-time employee, or for a part-time employee, the number of hours equal to the average number of hours that the employee works over a typical two-week period) of paid sick leave for any combination of qualifying reasons. However, the total number of hours entitlement is capped at 80 hours under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.

Q: Can an employee receive both paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave?

A: Yes, if they are at home with a child because his or her school or place of care is closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable. The emergency paid sick leave would cover the first 10 days of unpaid leave and the expanded paid family leave would cover the remaining 10 weeks. There would be no instances where an employee would get paid both the sick leave and the expanded family leave at the same time. 

Q: Can my employer deny me paid sick leave if my employer gave me paid leave for a reason identified in the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act prior to the Act going into effect?

A: No. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act imposes a new leave requirement on employers that is effective beginning April 1, 2020.

Q: Is all leave under the Family Medical Leave Act now paid leave?

A: No. No. The only type of family and medical leave that is paid leave is expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act when such leave exceeds ten days.

Q: Are the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements retroactive?

A: No.

Q: What documents do I need to give my employer to get paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

A: When requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, you must provide your employer either orally or in writing the following information:

  • Your name;
  • The date(s) for which you request leave;
  • The reason for leave; and
  • A statement that you are unable to work because of the above reason.

If you request leave because you are subject to a quarantine or isolation order or to care for an individual subject to such an order, you should additionally provide the name of the government entity that issued the order.


Employer Information


Q: If I am a private sector employer and have 500 or more employees, do the Acts apply to me?

A: No. Private-sector employers are only required to comply with the Acts if they have fewer than 500 employees.

Q: How do I calculate the number of employees to determine if I’m a covered employer?

A: The DOL provides the following guidance to determine private employer coverage:

  1. The number of employees will include all full- and part-time employees within the United States, which includes any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any Territory or possession of the United States.
  2. Employers should include employees on leave, temporary employees who are jointly employed by your organization and another employer (regardless of whether the jointly employed employees are maintained on only your or another employer’s payroll), and day laborers supplied by a temporary agency (regardless of whether you are the temporary agency or the client firm if there is a continuing employment relationship).
  3. Independent contractors, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), are not considered employees for purposes of the 500-employee threshold.

Q: How does the FFCRA impact a business’s leave policies?

A: The FFCRA creates new emergency paid sick leave and paid FMLA obligations. As a result, employers will need to amend their PTO and FMLA polices to reflect these new obligations.

Q: What information must I collect from an employee to substantiate the employee’s request for sick pay or emergency paid FMLA leave and secure a tax credit?

A: An employee must provide the following information prior to taking paid sick leave or emergency FMLA leave:

  1. Employee’s name;
  2. Date(s) for which leave is requested
  3. Qualifying reason for the leave;
  4. Oral or written statement that the employee is unable to work because of the qualified reason for leave.
  5. The name of the government entity that issued the quarantine or isolation order.
  6. The name of the health care provider who advised the Employee to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  7. The name of the son or daughter being cared for;
  8. The name of the school, place of care, or child care provider that has closed or become unavailable; and
  9.  A representation that no other suitable person will be caring for the son or daughter during the period for which the employee takes paid sick leave or expanded FMLA leave.

Q: At what rate of pay must I provide paid sick leaver under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act?

A: If an employee is out for the reasons listed below, sick leave must be paid at the employee’s required compensation (as defined below), but is capped at $511/day and $5,110 in the aggregate per employee:

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

If an employee is out for the reasons listed below, sick leave must be paid at 2/3 the employee’s required compensation, and is capped at $200/day and $2,000 in the aggregate per employee:

  1. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to paragraphs (1) or (2).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Q: How do I calculate emergency paid sick leave for part-time employees?

A: If the part-time employee has been employed for at least six months, the employee is entitled to up to the number of hours of paid sick leave equal to 14 times the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled to work each calendar day over the six-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes paid sick leave, including any hours for which the employee took leave of any type.

If the part-time employee has been employed for fewer than six months, the employee is entitled to up to the number of hours of paid sick leave equal to 14 times the number of hours the employee and the employer agreed to at the time of hiring that the employee would work, on average, each calendar day.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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