Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Poster Available From the Department of Labor

March 30, 2020
The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division has released the poster outlining employee rights concerning paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Please click the link below to open a copy of the poster. It is also available at the Department of Labor webiste: Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division has additional resources available on its website. Please click the COVID-19 and the American Workplace link to visit the page.

Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Poster

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)

March 24, 2020
Do you have questions about the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act? Find the answers in the sections below. Click on a question to see the answer.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) - Frequently Asked Questions

The EPLSA allows an eligible employee to take paid sick leave because the employee is:

  1. subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. advised by a health care 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. caring for the employee’s 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; or
  6. 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.

The EPSLA will apply only to businesses with fewer than 500 employees and will apply to all employees—regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time.

The employer is required to provide up to two weeks of paid sick leave for full-time and part-time employees (at the employee’s regular rate and regardless of the employee’s duration of employment prior to leave) who need time off for any of the coronavirus-related qualifying reasons listed in 1, 2 or 3 listed above or two-thirds the employee’s regular rate to care for qualifying reasons 4, 5, or 6 listed above.

Full-time employees are entitled to take up to 80 hours of leave. Part-time employees are entitled to leave based on the average number of hours they work in a given two-week period. If the part-time employee’s hours change from week to week, employers must determine the average number of hours worked during the prior 6 months and provide leave equal to the number of hours they typically work in a two-week period. If EPSLA leave is no longer needed by the employee, benefits cease on the next regularly scheduled payday.

Yes. Employers will be repaid in the form of certain dollar for dollar tax credits. The legislation allows for refundable tax credits in “an amount equal to 100% of the qualified” sick leave paid by the employer for each calendar quarter. The credit can be taken against the employer’s portion of the Social Security taxes. However, there are some caps and limits. Specifically, the refund for sick leave is capped at $511/day for qualifying events 1-3 above and at $200/day for qualifying events 4-6 above. There will effectively be a two-week cap on the credit for sick leave (which comports with the fact that the statute only provides for two weeks of paid sick leave).

The EPSLA takes precedence over all existing policies and may be in addition to any paid sick leave currently provided by employers. The employer is not allowed to require employees to utilize existing policies in lieu of EPLSA benefits.

Yes. Paid sick leave wages are limited to $511 per day up to $5,110 total per employee for their own use and to $200 per day up to $2,000 total to care for others.

No. The law is specifically designed to ensure employees will not be required to use PTO or vacation time to deal with coronavirus-related leave.

The EPSLA specifically contains provisions that prohibit employers from terminating an employee seeking EPSLA benefits.

Yes. A model poster will be released soon by the Secretary of Labor, and it will need to be posted in a conspicuous place.

Employers who fail to comply with the EPSLA will be deemed to have violated the minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and will be subject to fines and penalties. For those employers that willfully violate the EPSLA, they will be subjected to liquidated damages.

The EPSLA will become effective on April 2, 2020 and remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2020.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) - Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about the new Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)? Find the answers by clicking on the question below.

The EFMLEA will apply only to businesses with fewer than 500 employees and will apply to all employees — regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time who have been employed by the employer for at least 30 days prior to the designated leave. However, the Act now includes language allowing the Secretary of Labor to exclude healthcare providers and emergency responders from the definition of employees who can take such leave, and to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.

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.

The first 10 days (rather than 14 days) of EFMLEA may be unpaid. During this 10-day period, an employee may elect to substitute any accrued paid leave (like vacation or sick leave) to cover some or all of the 10-day unpaid period, however, the employer cannot require the employee to substitute paid leave. After the 10-day period, the employer is required to pay full-time employees at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled. The new Act limits this pay entitlement to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate per employee.

Employees who work a part-time or an irregular schedule are entitled to be paid based on the average number of hours the employee worked for the six months prior to taking leave under the EFMLEA. Employees who have worked for less than six months prior to leave are entitled to the employee’s reasonable expectation at hiring of the average number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work.

With some limited exceptions, yes. The regular rules under the FMLA will apply to job reinstatement. Employers with 25 or more employees will have the same obligation as under traditional FMLA to return any employee who has taken EFMLEA leave 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 EFMLEA leave due to an economic downtown or other circumstances caused by a public health emergency during the period of EFMLEA leave. 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.

The EFMLEA will become effective on April 2, 2020 and remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2020.

Additional Information

There are a series of refundable tax credits available to employers who are required to provide paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave. The tax credits are allowed against the employer portion of Social Security taxes. If the tax credits exceed the employer portion of Social Security taxes, employers will be reimbursed if their costs for qualified sick leave or qualified family leave wages exceed the taxes they would owe.

Employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit equal to 100 percent of the qualified sick leave wages paid by employers for each calendar quarter. The qualified sick leave wages are capped at $511 per day ($200 per day if the leave is for caring for a family member or child) for up to 10 days per employee in each calendar quarter.

Employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified family leave wages paid by employers for each calendar quarter in accordance with the EFMLEA. The qualified family leave wages are capped at $200 per day for each individual up to $10,000 total per calendar quarter. Only those employers who are required to offer EPSLA and EFMLEA may receive these credits.

If an employer cannot afford the payments, the only options at this point seem to be borrowing the money or petitioning the Secretary of Labor for an exemption from the new law based on the existence of a substantial risk that the employer will go out of business if forced to comply with this new law.

Managing Federal Contract Performance Issues Associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Memorandum Regarding COVID-19 Federal Contracts

March 20, 2020
On March 20, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget put out an Executive Memorandum regarding federal contractors and how contract work can be managed during this challenging time.

Highlights of the memorandum include:

  • Encourages use of telework (telecommuting / remote work) as a viable alternative to working in federal work sites that may be unavailable during the pandemic. Although telework cannot be mandated, contractors are encouraged to work with agencies to explore options.
  • Agencies should be flexible in providing extensions to performance dates if telework is not an option, or if the contractor is otherwise unable to perform due to COVID-19-related interruptions.
  • Agencies are encouraged to use the special emergency procurement provisions authorized in the President’s emergency declaration - the “Stafford Act.”

Please click on the Memorandum Regarding Federal Contracts link to read the memorandum and associated Frequently Asked Questions in full.

Memorandum Regarding COVID-19 Federal Contracts

FCE’s Operational Continuity During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Challenge


March 19, 2020
To our valued clients and members:

FCE has implemented a tested and validated operational contingency program that will assure continuity of excellent services to our valued clients and members in the event that our operational center is subjected to mandatory office closure during this challenging period brought on by the presence of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

While FCE’s operational center is currently open and conducting “business-as-usual” without interruption, we have been actively training and equipping our entire workforce to enable them to excellently perform all of FCE’s operational functions remotely. On a rotating basis, the remotely stationed operational staff has been tested on FCE’s contingency protocols, which includes the consistent daily ability to successfully access systems, data, and administrative workflow. We have successfully validated their ability to provide seamless administrative services. FCE has also been working closely with the Trustee, carrier partners, and vendors to assure consistent data flow and continuous administrative communications.

FCE’s Technology Division has created the technical ability to mobilize both our Customer Service Team and Customer Care administrative system. This has enabled the team to function remotely with uninterrupted provision of critical services to our members, should it become necessary. And, FCE’s legal team is reaching out to government offices and agencies to research, verify, and be able to communicate critical information to our clients and members, as new developments occur. This will allow all of us to evaluate and coordinate our best practices during these extraordinary circumstances.

FCE leadership is committed to our employees’, clients’, and members’ wellbeing during these complex and challenging times we are sharing. Please feel free to contact your Sales Representative and/or Account Executive if you have any questions or need additional information.