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What Employers Need to Know About The Families First Act

What Employers Need to Know About The Families First Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201) goes into effect on April 2nd, 2020. This legislation provides expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights and greater unemployment benefits for individuals impacted by COVID-19.

As an employer, here’s what you need to know.

Emergency Paid Leave Provisions 

The Emergency Paid-Leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act generally apply to employers with fewer than 500 employees. They require employers to offer up to 80 hours of paid sick time for full-time employees with the following circumstances:

  • Under quarantine or isolation order by federal, state, or local authorities related to COVID-19
  • Advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider due to concerns related to COVID-19 (including advice based solely on an employee’s high-risk status)
  • Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis
  • Caring for an individual who is quarantined
  • Needs to care for children due to school or child care closures

Benefit Amounts and Caps

The paid sick time benefits will be capped at $511 per day for the employee’s own care and $200 per day to care for another individual. Employees should be paid at the higher of the following:

  • Regular rate of pay
  • Federal minimum wage
  • Local minimum wage

Part-time employees should be paid for the average number of hours they would normally work over a two-week period.

Expanded FMLA Rights

Under the Families First Act, companies must provide Paid Family Leave to any employee who has worked for at least 30 days and is unable to work for more than 10 days due to child care concerns related to COVID-19.

Benefit Amounts and Caps

If a child is a minor and their school or care facility is closed, the employee will be eligible for up to $200 per day, with a maximum of $10,000 through the end of the year. 

Under this section, paid leave must be at least two-thirds of the employee’s regular weekly rate. If a worker’s schedule varies week to week, their employer should estimate with the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled per day over the previous six-month period.

Total Amount of FMLA

The total amount of FMLA leave available to employees has not been expanded.

Any FMLA leave an employee takes for other reasons will be combined with paid leave required under the expanded FMLA Leave provisions of the Act to determine continued eligibility for paid or unpaid leave.

Quarterly Tax Credits

Payments made under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act will be reimbursed to employers via quarterly tax credits, like Emergency Sick Pay payments.


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