We have received some additional information from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regarding the Relief Act and have outlined the main points of what we have learned below. As you will note, the Act’s official name is Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). They’ve addressed several sections of the Act that were not entirely clear when it was first signed into law.

The DOL and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have issued additional guidance on the specific documentation required for FFCRA paid sick and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) leave. It is important that these are documented properly if you plan to claim the employer tax credits. We will also address employee’s total leave entitlement in the event they take FFCRA paid sick leave in addition to EFMLA.

Frequently Asked Questions (4/9/2020)

Q: What documentation should an eligible employer maintain to validate their eligibility in order to claim the tax credits for FFCRA paid sick or EFMLA leave?
A: The DOL has clarified that if an employer intends to claim these tax credits, they will need to retain “appropriate documentation”. The IRS has issued guidance regarding what employees must provide to their employer to justify their need for leave.

Employers should retain a signed statement containing the following information:

  • The employee’s name
  • The date(s) for which leave is requested
  • The COVID-19 qualifying reason for leave
  • A statement representing that the employee is unable to work or telework because of the COVID-19 qualifying reason

For clients whose payroll is processed by LBMC Employment Partners, please contact your Payroll Specialist for the codes that should be used to report time that is taken under the two parts of the Act so that hours can be accurately tracked. Also, for our PEO clients, please reach out to your HR Manager for appropriate EFMLA or paid sick leave forms.

Q: What documentation is the employee required to provide in addition to the above information?
A: Employees must provide certain certifications specific to the reason they are requesting FFCRA
leave:

  • Government quarantine or isolation order – the employee must provide the name of the government entity that issued the order
  • A health care provider advised the employee to self-quarantine – the employee must provide the name of the health care provider
  • Care for someone else under quarantine -the employee must provide either (1) the government entity that issued the quarantine or isolation order to which the individual is subject, or (2) the name of the health care provider who advised the individual to self quarantine, whichever is applicable
  • Care for their child – the employee must provide (1) the name of the child being cared for, (2) the name of the school, place of care, or child care provider that closed or became unavailable due to COVID-19, and (3) a statement representing that no other suitable person is available to care for the child during the period of requested leave. For children older than 14, a statement of special circumstances that require the employee to provide care must be provided.

Please note that an employer may not require documentation beyond what is provided for in the regulations. Therefore, an employee does not need to provide a doctor’s note advising self quarantine or official documentation that their child’s school or daycare center is closed.

Q: Can my employee take both FFCRA paid sick leave and EFMLA? If so, how much leave are they entitled to?
A: Yes. It is possible that an employee could take up to 14 total weeks of leave under FFCRA – that is, 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave in addition to 12 weeks of EFMLA. This is because the Department of Labor has concluded that FFCRA paid sick is not a form of regular FMLA leave and therefore does not count toward an employee’s regular 12 weeks of FMLA entitlement.

Frequently Asked Questions (4/2/2020)

Q: What records do I need to keep when my employees take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?
A: Private sector employers that provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA are eligible for reimbursement of the costs of that leave through refundable tax credits. If you intend to claim a tax credit under the FFCRA for your payment of the sick leave or expanded family and medical leave wages, you should retain appropriate documentation in your records. If one of your employees takes expanded family and medical leave to care for his or her child because their school or place of care is closed or their childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19, you may also require your employee to provide you with documentation in support of such leave, to the extent permitted under the certification rules for conventional FMLA leave requests. For example, this could include a notice that has been published in a newspaper, posted on a government, school, or day care website, or an email from an employee or official of the school, place of care, or childcare provider.

For clients whose payroll is processed by LBMC Employment Partners, please contact your Payroll Specialist for the codes that should be used to report time that is taken under the two parts of the Act so that hours can be accurately tracked. Also, for our PEO clients, please reach out to your HR Manager for assistance if an employee requests leave under the expanded FMLA.

Q: Who qualifies as a “health care provider” and thus may be excluded by their employer from paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave?
A: For the purposes of the FFCRA, a health care provider is anyone employed at any of the following:

  1. Doctor’s office
  2. Hospital
  3. Health care center
  4. Clinic
  5. Post-secondary educational institution offering health care instruction
  6. Medical school
  7. Local health department or agency
  8. Nursing facility
  9. Retirement facility
  10. Nursing home
  11. Home health care provider
  12. Any facility that performs laboratory or medical testing
  13. Pharmacy
  14. Any entity that contracts with any of the above institutions, employers, or entities to provide services or to maintain the operation of the facility.
  15. Any entity that provides medical services, produces medical products, or is otherwise involved in the making of COVID-19-related medical equipment, tests, drugs, vaccines, diagnostic vehicles or treatments.
  16. Any individual determined to be a “health care provider” necessary for a state’s or territory’s response to COVID-19, as determined by the highest official of each such state or territory (including the District of Columbia).

Q: Who qualifies as an “emergency responder” and thus may be excluded by their employer from paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave?
A: For the purposes of the FFCRA, an employee who is necessary for the provision of transport, care, health care, comfort and nutrition of patients, or whose services are otherwise needed to limit the spread of COVID-19. This definition includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Military or national guard
  2. Law enforcement officers
  3. Correctional institution personnel
  4. Firefighters
  5. Emergency medical services personnel
  6. Physicians, nurses, and public health personnel
  7. Emergency medical technicians
  8. Paramedics
  9. Emergency management personnel
  10. 911 operators
  11. Public works personnel
  12. Persons with skills or training in operating specialized equipment or other skills needed to provide aid in a declared emergency, as well as individuals who work for such facilities employing these individuals and whose work is necessary to maintain the operation of the facility.
  13. Any individual determined to be an “emergency responder” necessary for a state’s or territory’s response to COVID-19, as determined by the highest official of each such state or territory (including the District of Columbia).

Frequently Asked Questions (3/25/2020)

Q: Did the coronavirus relief bill change effective dates? We were told it would be April 2, 2020.
A: The Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA’s) emergency paid-leave provisions are effective April 1, 2020 – December 31st, 2020. The FFCRA states the leave provisions “shall take effect no later than 15 days after the date of enactment.” Since the act was signed on March 18, many people assumed the DOL would implement the law on April 2. “The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while at the same time reimbursing businesses,” the DOL said.

Q: Do I have to notify my employees of their leave options?
A: Yes. The Department of Labor has released a notice that should be hung in a conspicuous place on the company premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees or posting this notice on an employee information website (internal or external). We have attached the notice to this email for your use. For those employers using our Employee Navigator or Kronos WorkForce Ready onboarding systems, your HR Manager will be adding the notice to that system as well.

Q: How is an employee’s benefit coverage impacted if his/her schedule is reduced to less than 30 hours
per week?
A: For our PEO clients, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee informed us the 30 hours worked per week requirement has been lifted for the next 90 days. That means your employees will be able to continue their current medical, dental and vision coverage for the next 90 days even if they are not working 30 hours a week.