We are consistently here to provide you with information that can help you navigate this difficult time.
Below, we are going to discuss acts that are being expanded.
These laws provide coverage, especially to those who must be out of work due to health-related issues.
Keep in mind that you always want to consult a lawyer about every legal decision, and with things changing by the day, we understand that information is power. Below, we will detail the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, and the potential changes could help you get the most out of your job while staying healthy and protected during the pandemic.
Expanded Coverage and Eligibility – The Act significantly amends and expands FMLA on a temporary basis. The current employee threshold for FMLA coverage would change from only covering employers with 50 or more employees to instead covering those employers with fewer than 500 employees.
It also lowers the eligibility requirement such that any employee who has worked for the employer for at least 30 days before the designated leave may be eligible to receive paid family and medical leave. As a result, thousands of employers not previously subject to the FMLA may be required to provide job-protected leave to employees for a COVID-19 coronavirus-designated reason.
However, the Act now includes language allowing the Secretary of Labor to exclude healthcare providers and emergency responders from the definition of employees.
These occupations are allowed to take such leave. The Act also appears to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.
Reasons for Emergency Leave – Any individual employed by the employer for at least 30 days (before the first day of leave) may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to allow an employee, who is unable to work or telework, to care for the employee’s child (under 18 years of age).
If the child’s school or place of care is closed or the childcare provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency. This is now the only qualifying need for Emergency FMLA and a significant change from the prior version of the bill passed by the House over the weekend, which contained several other COVID-19-related reasons to provide Emergency FMLA.
Paid Leave – Another significant change from the prior version passed from the House is the reduction of the unpaid period of Emergency FMLA. Now, the first ten days (rather than 14 days) of Emergency FMLA may be unpaid.
During these ten days, an employee may elect to substitute any accrued paid leave (like a vacation or sick leave) to cover some or all of the 10-day unpaid period.
After the ten days, the employer generally must pay full-time employees at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be regularly scheduled.
The new Act now limits this pay entitlement to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate per employee.
Calculating Pay for Non-Full Time Employees – Employees who work a part-time or irregular schedule are entitled to be paid based on the average number of hours the employee worked for the six months before taking Emergency FMLA.
Employees who have worked for less than six months before leave are entitled to the employee’s reasonable expectation at the hiring of the average number of hours the employee would generally be scheduled to work.
Job Restoration – Employers with 25 or more employees will have the same obligation as under traditional FMLA to return any employee who has taken Emergency FMLA to the same or equivalent position upon the return to work.
However, employers with fewer than 25 employees are generally excluded from this requirement if the employee’s position no longer exists following the Emergency FMLA leave due to an economic downtown or other circumstances caused by a public health emergency during the period of Emergency FMLA.
This exclusion is subject to the employer making reasonable attempts to return the employee to an equivalent position and requires an employer to make efforts to return the employee to work for up to a year following the employee’s leave.
Effective Date and Expiration – The president signed the legislation on the evening of March 18, which means the leave provisions will go into effect on April 2.
There are different portions of this Act that we will discuss in the future. What does it all mean for you? It means that you could potentially be entitled to benefits that weren’t available before.
As always, if you have questions, we are here to help and disseminate information that may apply to your current situation. Do not hesitate to reach out. We are committed to consistently being your source for knowledge and how the laws are changing to help you.