Families First Coronavirus Response Act Summary

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), H.R. 6201, was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on March 11, 2020 in response to the spread of COVID-19 throughout our Nation. The bill passed the U.S. House on March 14, the U.S. Senate on March 18 and was signed into law by the President that night. The Act is set to sunset on December 31, 2020. Below is our interpretation of the bill and its potential impact on counties in South Carolina. An anticipated third federal bill could amend any provisions of H.R. 6201. SCAC staff will continue to update you as more information is received.

Link to the bill - https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6201/text

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993

  • The FFCRA amends the FMLA to establish a federal emergency job-protected paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak.
    • The program is intended only for employers with fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses with less than 50 employers are exempt.
    • Only applies to eligible employees who have been employed for at least 30 days.
    • The first 10 days of leave for an employee may consist of unpaid leave. The employer must provide 12 weeks of paid leave for an employee that takes leave beyond the initial 10 days of unpaid leave. The pay must be an amount equal to at least two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay with a cap of $200 per day and $10,000 in total.
    • An employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave for unpaid leave.
    • The job-protected leave can be used for quarantine after exposure to coronavirus; the care for an at-risk family member quarantined after exposure; or to care for a child of an employer if the child’s school or childcare has closed or is unavailable due to the coronavirus.
    • Employers of health care providers and emergency responders may elect to be exempt from the program.
    • Counties with more than 500 employees are exempt from the provisions of this section.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

  • An employer shall provide to each employee paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work (or telework) because they are in quarantine or isolation; are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis; are caring for an individual in quarantine or isolation; or are caring for a son or daughter who’s school or child care is unavailable due to COVID-19.
    • Employers of health care providers and emergency responders may elect to be exempt from the program.
    • Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time and part-time employees are entitled to a number of hours equal to the number of hours that such employee works, on average, over a 2-week period.
    • Paid sick time shall not exceed $511 per day and $5,110 in total for:
      • employees subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
      • employees advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
      • employees experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
    • Paid sick time shall not exceed $200 per day and $2,000 total for:
      • employees caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or advised to self-quarantine;
      • employees caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the sun or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or
      • employees experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Tax Credits for Paid Leave

  • H.R. 6201 provides for a refundable tax credit, against the employer portion of Social Security taxes, equal to 100% of the qualified paid leave wages paid by an employer for each calendar year.
    • The full tax credit is available towards employees who are sick or quarantined.
    • A lesser credit can be applied to amounts paid to employees caring for a family member or a child who is unable to go to school or childcare.
    • This credit does not apply to state and local government employers. SCAC staff reached out to members of Congress about this exemption. We were told the policy behind it is that most public employers already have good leave policies. This credit is specifically aimed towards private hourly employees who would otherwise go unpaid but for this program.

The information provided is not considered legal advice. Please consult with your county attorney for answers to specific questions within your county. For general inquiries, please contact SCAC legal staff at (803) 252-7255 or 1-800-922-6081.