Families First assistance for school employees impacted economically by Coronavirus

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, HR 6201, was recently signed into law. The law contains several provisions that will provide meaningful assistance to school district employees. It takes effect April 2, 2020 and will end on December 31, 2020. This summary is tailored to school district employees.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

What it provides:

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides 10 days of paid sick leave to an employee who is unable to work or telework if:

  1. a) The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID -19;
  2. b) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  3. c) The employee is experiencing symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. d) The employee is caring for someone described above;
  5. e) The employee is caring for the employee’s child if the school or place of care for the child is closed, or if the child care provider of the child is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.

How much it pays:

If an employee is unable to work due to the conditions described in (a) – (c), the employee is eligible for ten days of leave at their regular rate of pay, up to a limit of $511 per day ($5,111 total).

If an employee is unable to work due to the conditions described in (d) – (e), such as providing child care, the employee is eligible for a lesser amount of up to $200 per day ($2000 total).

If the employee is part-time, the employee is entitled to be paid for a number of hours equal to the number of hours that the employee works, on average, in a 2 week period.

Other important provisions:

The employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the paid sick leave.

If the employee has other leave available for use, the employee may first use the paid sick leave for the purposes described in the law, before the employee uses other available leave.

The paid leave is available regardless of how long the employee has been employed (in other words, recent hires are eligible).

It is illegal for an employer to discharge, discipline or otherwise discriminate against an employee taking leave.

EXPANDED FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

What it provides:

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act Expansion Act Applies to all school districts regardless of size. The law provides for a total of 12 weeks leave.

It allows employees to take FMLA leave if the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave to take care of the employee’s child if the school or place of care has been closed, or if the child care provider for the child is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.

How much it pays:

The first 10 days (2 weeks) of leave may be unpaid, except that an employee may choose to use the new emergency sick leave or any other accrued paid leave.

The remaining 10 weeks of FMLA leave provided by this law will be paid at 2/3rds of the employee’s regular rate, up to a maximum payment of $200 per day ($10,000 total).

Other important provisions:

This law applies to any full-time or part-time employees who have been on the payroll for 30 calendar days.

FMLA anti-discrimination and other job protection provisions generally apply. Among other things, this means that the district must return the employee to the same or equivalent position upon their return to work.