What is the Emergency Expansion of Family Medical Leave Act?
In response to the Coronavirus crisis, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It is called the “Families First Act” in these FAQs. The Families First Act has two parts:
- The Emergency Expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act; and
- The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
Both parts of the Families First Act take effect on April 2, 2020 and end on December 31, 2020.
The Emergency Expansion of Family Medical Leave Act (“EEFMLA”), called “Emergency Medical Leave” in these FAQs, allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave time from work because of coronavirus related childcare needs without being fired. The first 2 weeks (10 work days) of Emergency Medical Leave are unpaid, but the employee may use Emergency Paid Sick Leave or accrued employer provided leave time. Click here for information about how Emergency Medical Leave and the Emergency Paid Leave Act interact.
Am I able to use Emergency Medical Leave?
Employees are eligible under Emergency Medical Leave if they have worked full time for their employer for more than 30 days.
When can I use Emergency Medical Leave?
Employees can use Emergency Medical Leave if they are “unable to work or telework” because they need to care for their child whose school or place of care has closed or is unavailable due to COVID-19.
Can I Get Paid if I Take Emergency Medical Leave?
Yes. An employee can use any “paid time off” or “PTO”, including vacation or sick leave, to get paid during the first 2 weeks (10 work days) of Emergency Medical Leave.
An employee can also use Emergency Paid Leave (if qualified) to get paid during the first 2 weeks of Emergency Medical Leave. Click here for information about Emergency Paid Leave.
The employee gets to choose whether or not to use paid time off, Emergency Paid Leave, or not be paid for the first 2 weeks of Emergency Medical Leave. Employers CANNOT require employees to do either of these options.
All employees who take more than 2 weeks of Emergency Medical Leave would be paid for weeks 3-12 of their leave.
What Will I Get Paid During My Emergency Medical Leave?
Employees may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of Emergency Medical Leave.
During the first 2 weeks (10 work days), an employee is either unpaid, or paid based on PTO or Emergency Paid Leave (see above).
During the last 10 weeks, an employee will be paid two thirds (about 66%) of their regular salary or hourly rate.
If a person earns different amounts each week, then the employer first finds the average number of hours worked per week in the last six months. Then, the employee will be paid two thirds (about 60%) of the average pay or hourly rate.
The maximum payment is $200 per day or $10,000 total. An employee is not paid for any more time off after receiving the maximum amount.
How do I Ask for Emergency Medical Leave?
Employees should give their employer a written request for “Emergency Expansion Family Medical Leave Act.” The request should explain the reason the employee is requesting the leave and how long the employee is asking to be off work. A written request should include:
- your name,
- dates of requested leave,
- the reason you need to take the leave and are unable to work.
For example, when requesting leave to take care of a school-aged child include the child’s age, name, and school, as well as a statement that there is not another suitable caretaker.
Please note that an employer may ask for documentation proving your reason for leave, or your continued need for leave.
What Happens When I Go Back to Work?
The employer must give the employee the same or very similar position.
However, this requirement does not apply if:
- The employer has less than 25 employees; and
- The position no longer exists because of the public health emergency, AND
- The employer tries to give the employee an equivalent position within one year.
The employer must try to contact the employee when an equivalent position becomes available.
Where Can I Find More Information on the Emergency Medical Leave?
See below for information for employees from the federal Department of Labor:
- Employee Paid Leave Rights information (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave)
- Employee Rights Poster (https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf)