Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act became law on March 18, 2020. It is the second package enacted by Congress in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. This bill provides paid sick leave, tax credits, and free COVID-19 testing; expands food assistance and unemployment benefits and increases Medicaid funding. 

 

DIVISION A–SECOND CORONAVIRUS PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2020

TITLE I–DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

This title provides appropriations to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). This section also allows USDA to approve state plans to provide emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price school meals if their schools were not closed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

TITLE II–DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

This title provides appropriations to the Defense Health Program for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and services.

TITLE III–DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

This title provides appropriations to the Internal Revenue Service to implement the tax credits included in this bill.

TITLE IV–DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

This title provides appropriations to the Indian Health Service for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and services.

TITLE V–DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

This title provides appropriations to the Administration for Community Living for nutrition programs that assist the elderly.

The title also provides appropriations to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. The funds are provided for the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse the costs of providing COVID-19 diagnostic testing and services to individuals without health insurance.

TITLE VI–DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

This title provides appropriations to the Veterans Health Administration for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and services.

TITLE VII–GENERAL PROVISIONS

This section requires agencies that receive funding in this division to report to Congress regarding anticipated use of funds.

This section also requires state and local governments that receive funding or assistance in this division to ensure that (1) the respective State Emergency Operations Center receives regular and real-time reporting on aggregated data on testing and results from state and local public health departments, and (2) the data is transmitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

DIVISION B–NUTRITION WAIVERS

This division expands food and nutrition programs of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) due to COVID-19.

TITLE I–MAINTAINING ESSENTIAL ACCESS TO LUNCH FOR STUDENTS ACT

This title modifies USDA food and nutrition programs to allow certain waivers of requirements for the school meal programs, including waivers that increase federal costs during a COVID-19-related school closure. 

TITLE II–COVID-19 CHILD NUTRITION RESPONSE ACT

This section authorizes USDA to issue and grant waivers pertaining to the Child and Adult Care Food Programs. State agencies must submit waiver requests to USDA. 

TITLE III–SNAP WAIVERS

This section temporarily suspends work requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during a public health emergency declaration due to COVID-19, allowing participants who would have lost eligibility due to such requirements to continue to receive SNAP benefits.

This section also provides for emergency SNAP benefits during a public health emergency declaration due to COVID-19.

DIVISION C–EMERGENCY FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE EXPANSION ACT

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

This section permits employees to take public health emergency leave through December 31, 2020, to care for the employee’s child during a COVID-19 public-health emergency. Specifically, employers of fewer than 500 workers must provide up to 12 weeks paid leave for an employee who cannot work because their school or child-care provider closed as a result of a public health emergency.

Employers are not required to pay employees for the first 10 days of such public health emergency leave. However, an employee may use accrued paid leave during such time. After the first 10 days, employers must pay not less than two-thirds of an employee’s regular pay for the number of hours per week the employee normally works. The maximum amount of compensation for such leave is $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate. 

DIVISION D–EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE STABILIZATION AND ACCESS ACT OF 2020

Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act of 2020

This section funds emergency grants for FY2020 to administer unemployment programs in states meeting certain requirements. The amount of available funds for each state is based on the Department of Labor’s determination of proportional total taxable wages attributable to a state during the preceding year. Each state receives 50% of such determined amount if the state

  • requires employers to notify employees about the availability of unemployment compensation at the time the employee separates from an employer;
  • ensures that unemployment applications are available through at least two of three methods: in-person, by phone, or online; and
  • provides assistance with processing unemployment applications.

Additionally, a state receives the remaining 50% of such funds if, among other requirements

  • the number of unemployment claims in the state has increased by at least 10% compared with the same quarter during the previous year; and
  • the state demonstrates policies to increase access to unemployment compensation such as waiving the requirement to search for work and the one-week waiting period to receive benefits, among others.

This section increases to 100% the federal share of payments to states for extended and regular unemployment compensation through December 31, 2020.

DIVISION E–EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

This section requires employers to provide paid sick time to employees who are unable to work due to the effects of COVID-19. Specifically, full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time, which is available immediately, for use if the employee:

  • is subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order,
  • has been advised by a health-care provider to self-quarantine,
  • is caring for an individual who is subject to governmental or self-quarantine, or
  • is caring for the employee’s child because the child’s school or child-care provider is closed.

Paid sick time under this section may be used before other paid leave that may be available to an employee. Part-time employees are entitled to such paid sick time for the average number of hours the part-time employee works during an average two-week period. Paid sick time under this section may not carry over from one year to the next.

Employers are prohibited from taking adverse actions against employees who take leave under this division, or take actions to enforce the requirements of this division. 

The emergency paid sick time requirements expire on December 31, 2020.

Employers with fewer than 500 employees and federal, state, and local public agencies are subject to the requirements of this division. Employers must pay the regular rate of pay up to

  • $511 per day, and $5,110 in aggregate, for paid sick time used by employee who experiences symptoms of COVID-19 or is required or advised to self-quarantine; or
  • $200 per day, and $2,000 in aggregate, for paid sick time used by an employee to care for the employee’s child or other impacted person.

 

DIVISION F–HEALTH PROVISIONS

This section requires private health insurance to cover testing for COVID-19 without imposing cost-sharing (e.g., deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments). This coverage includes the cost of administering such approved tests and related visits to health care providers.

This section requires Medicare to cover, without cost-sharing, visits to health care providers that relate to COVID-19 testing during the public health emergency.

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans must also cover COVID-19 testing and related visits without cost-sharing during the public health emergency. MA plans are also prohibited from instituting prior authorization or other utilization management requirements with respect to coverage of such services.

Additionally, COVID-19 testing and related visits must be covered without cost-sharing under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid during the public health emergency.

State Medicaid programs may also cover COVID-19 testing and related visits for uninsured individuals during this period. The section applies a 100% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to such coverage.

This section requires the Department of Health and Human Services to cover, during the public health emergency and without cost-sharing, COVID-19 testing and related visits for Native Americans, including Alaska Natives, who receive health services through the Indian Health Service (IHS), regardless of whether the COVID-19 services are covered under IHS.

This section increases the Medicaid FMAP for all states and U.S. territories during the public health emergency, in accordance with specified conditions. For example, in order to receive the increased FMAP, a state Medicaid program may not require standards for eligibility that are more restrictive than the standards that were in effect on January 1, 2020.

DIVISION G–TAX CREDITS FOR PAID SICK AND PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

This section allows for  a credit against payroll taxes for 100% of the employer-paid qualified sick leave wages paid each calendar quarter, subject to specified limitations. The amount of sick leave wages taken into account for purposes of the credit may not exceed $200 for any employee ($511 per day employees as defined under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act) and the aggregate number of days taken into account is limited to 10, over the number of days taken into account for preceding calendar quarters.

This section allows a refundable income tax credit for 100% of sick leave amounts of self-employed individuals under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. For other employees, the credit percentage is 67. Self-employed individuals must maintain documentation prescribed by the Internal Revenue Service to establish eligibility for the credit.

This section allows an employer a 100% payroll tax credit for qualified family leave wages paid by such employer for each calendar quarter. The amount of qualified family leave wages that may be taken into account for each employee is limited to $200 per day and $10,000 for all calendar quarters.

This section allows a refundable income tax credit for 100% of the qualified family leave amounts of self-employed individuals, subject to a specified formula for determining the leave amounts. Self-employed individuals must maintain documentation prescribed by the Internal Revenue Service to establish eligibility for the credit.

This section provides that wages required to be paid to employees under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act shall not be considered wages for purposes of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the effective date of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

As an employer, how do I know if my business is under the 500-employee threshold and therefore must provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

You have fewer than 500 employees if, at the time your employee’s leave is to be taken, you employ fewer than 500 full-time 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. 

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

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

If providing child care-related paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave at my business with fewer than 50 employees would jeopardize the viability of my business as a going concern, how do I take advantage of the small business exemption?

To elect this small business exemption, you should document why your business with fewer than 50 employees meets the criteria set forth by the Department, which will be addressed in more detail in forthcoming regulations.

When calculating pay due to employees, must overtime hours be included?

Yes. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires you to pay an employee for hours the employee would have been normally scheduled to work even if that is more than 40 hours in a week. However, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act requires that paid sick leave be paid only up to 80 hours over a two-week period. 

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?

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

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

No.

Source: US Department of Labor