Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

March 26, 2020

As a response to school and day care closures due to the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus), the federal government passed the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. The Act and its requirements take effect no later than 15 days after its enactment, which is April 2, and provisions end Dec. 31, 2020. Below is a basic summary of the key provisions.

What Types of Leave Does It Allow?

The law provides for special leave provisions with respect to the coronavirus. Although the law expands who is a qualified employee, it applies to only leaves “because of a qualifying need related to a public health emergency.” This is when a qualified employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years old of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable because of an emergency with respect to
COVID-19 declared by a federal, state or local authority.

Who Is an Eligible Employee?

Eligible employees are those who have been employed for at least 30 days. All other typical FMLA requirements to determine if someone is a qualified employee, such as work at a location with 50 employees in a 75 mile radius, do not apply.

Who Is a Qualified Employer?

Qualified employers are generally those private companies with less than 500 employees and all government employers.

The law allows certain exemptions for employers of health providers and emergency responders. It also allows the secretary of Labor to issue regulations:

  • to exclude certain health care providers and emergency responders from the definition of eligible employees.
  • potentially to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

How Long Is the Leave and Is It Paid?

As under the regular FMLA leave, the employee is entitled to 12 weeks for leave. The first 10 days are unpaid; however, the employee may elect to substitute accrued vacation, personal medical or sick leave.

Generally the remaining leave shall be paid at a rate of not less than two-thirds the employee’s salary but not to exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.

As with any new regulations, there will be questions upon implementation. Members will want to work with their human resources professionals and county attorney or other legal counsel when implementing this new provision.