I have complied a list of references including links to help answer your most pressing questions. Please check this often as I will be posting updates as they become available.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act goes into effect April 1, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020. See a summary below:
What is expanded?
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act amends the current Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing leave for eligible employees who can’t work (or telework) because their minor child’s school or childcare service is closed due to a COVID-19 emergency declared by a federal, state or local authority.
Who is eligible?
Eligible employees include employees who work for an employer with fewer than 500 employees and who have been on the payroll for at least 30 calendar days.
Most employees of the federal government are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was not amended by this Act, and are therefore not covered by the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. However, federal employees covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act are covered by the paid sick leave provision.
Is this paid leave?
The first 10 days of this leave may be unpaid; however, employees may elect to substitute available paid time off, such as vacation, personal or sick leave, during this time.
After the initial 10 days, employers must pay eligible employees at least two-thirds of the employees’ regular rate of pay (as defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act) based on the number of hours the employees would otherwise have been scheduled to work. These paid-family-leave benefits are capped at $200 a day (or $10,000 total).
What is the effective date?
The expanded FMLA provisions take effect April 1, 2020 and expire on December 31, 2020.
PAID SICK LEAVE
Who is covered?
Employers with fewer than 500 employees and public agencies with at least one employee.
Which employees are eligible?
All employees, regardless of how long they have worked for the employer are eligible for paid sick leave, with the exception that an employer of health care providers or emergency responders may elect to exclude such employees.
How much leave is required?
Covered employers must provide full-time employees with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave if the employees are unable to work (or telework) due to COVID-19. Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave based on the number of hours the employees work, on average, over a two-week period.
What are the qualifying reasons for leave?
Qualifying reasons for this paid sick leave include:
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to either number 1 or 2 above.
- The employee is caring for his or her son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the secretary of health and human services in consultation with the secretary of the treasury and the secretary of labor.
What are the pay requirements?
Paid sick leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater, for leave taken for reasons 1-3 above. An Employee taking leave for reasons 4-6 may be compensated at two-thirds of his or her regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater.
New requirements for employers from the Georgia Department of Labor
Penalties for Employers
Currently, employers are required to file partial claims on behalf of their full-time employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period and the employee earns an amount not exceeding their maximum weekly benefit amount plus $50.
On March 16, the GDOL announced new requirements for employers filing partial unemployment claims. Under Emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5, containing Rule 300-2-4-.09(1), impacting all partial claims filed on or after March 15:
- All partial claims must be filed by employers online in the employer portal.
- All employers must file partial claims with respect to any week during which an employee (full-time or part-time) works less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Any employer found to be in violation must pay to the labor commissioner the full amount of benefits paid to the employee.
The GDOL provides several circumstances in which employers should not file a partial claim. These include employees who:
- Will be paid for the temporary layoff period (e.g., paid salary, paid sick leave, paid vacation or paid family leave).
- Are or were on scheduled leave prior to the layoff period (e.g., a leave of absence or medical leave).
- Are employed by a temporary agency and are currently working at your place of business.
- Were employed in another state in the last 18 months (employees should be directed to apply for unemployment benefits online).
- Were employed with the federal government or on active military service in the last 18 months (employees should be directed to apply for unemployment benefits online).
Additional Guidance for Employers
To maintain compliance with the new GDOL rules, employers are encouraged to be mindful of the following guidelines:
- Be sure to accurately report the employee’s name, social security number, and date of birth to match the Social Security Administration’s records.
- There must be seven days between payment week ending dates.
- Do not submit claims until after the week-end date on the claim.
- Report vacation pay, holiday pay, earnings, etc., during the week it was earned rather than the week it was paid.
- Be sure to report any additional income employees are receiving to the GDOL, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income and pay for weekend military reserve duty.
How To File Partial Unemployment Claims Online
To submit partial claims, employers not already registered must register online on the GDOL employer portal. Once registered, employers can perform the following steps to file partial claims:
- Log into the employer portal.
- Select the employer account number under “registered account.”
- Select the “file partial claims” link under “common links.”
- Follow the on-screen instructions.
- For step-by-step registration instructions, there is an administrator guide available for download on the employer portal page.