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COVID-19 Information: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is an Act of Congress meant to respond to the economic impacts of the ongoing 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. The legislation has two components that provide the following leave benefits:

  • Federal Emergency Sick Leave (FESL/FMES)
  • Expanded Federal Family and Medical Leave (FFML)

FFCRA leave provisions are effective Apr. 1, 2020 and end Dec. 31, 2020. See below for more information. A summary of FFCRA is also available.

Eligibility

FFCRA leave benefits are available to the following employee classifications. See specifications as provided:

  • Full- and part-time staff
  • Full- and part-time faculty
  • Adjunct faculty through the duration of the current appointment
  • 1,500 hour wage employees 
  • Wage employees should have maintained consistent employment status leading up to the period for accessing the benefit.
  • FFCRA does allow exclusions for certain groups of employees from eligibility, such as healthcare providers and emergency responders. Human Resources has provided additional information to colleges and business units. If you have questions about FFCRA exclusions, contact your college or business unit HR partner or the HR Leave Team
  • Each FFCRA request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • If you have applied for unemployment, you are not eligible for FFCRA.
  • All employees who have worked for at least 30 calendar days are eligible for leave under the Expanded Federal Family and Medical Leave. The calendar days do not need to be consecutive and there are no requirements for them to have worked a minimum number of hours.

Reasons for use

Emergency Paid Sick Leave:

The federal sick leave benefit is similar to the state Public Health and Emergency Leave (PHEL), but has expanded reasons for use and the leave time is paid at different rates depending on the reason for the usage.  When employees can telework, that is always the preferred solution. 

Eligible employees will be paid 100 percent (up to $511 per day, $5,110 total for 10 days) if they are unable to telework or work due to a need for leave for the following reasons:

  • When the employee is personally subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  • When the employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19. 
  • When the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking medical diagnosis.

Eligible employees will receive two-thirds of their regular pay (up to $200 per day, $2,000 total for 10 days) for the following reasons:

  • When the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or who has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • When the employee is caring for a child/ren whose school or place of care is closed or a childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19-related reasons.
  • When the employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition that may arise as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Expanded Federal Family and Medical Leave:

If the reason for using the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act is to care for a child/ren whose school or place of care is closed or a childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19-related reasons, then the employee may apply for the expanded Federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. Similar to other categories of Family Medical Leave (FMLA), FFCRA provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected absence from work during a 12-month period proportional and prorated to the employment percentage.

  • The first 10 work days of FFML may be unpaid or: 
    • The employee may substitute any personal leave for the unpaid time. 
    • If the employee is eligible for the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave, that paid leave may be charged for the first 10 work days.
  • The employee will be paid at two-thirds of their regular pay (up to $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate) if unable to work or telework due to the need to care for a son/s or daughter/s under 18 years old because:
    • The school or childcare facility has been closed.
    • The childcare provider is unavailable due to a declared COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • When employees are paid at two-thirds of their regular pay but wish to receive full pay, they may use applicable personal leave balances to supplement.
  • Employee must notify their supervisor and the Leave Team of time that will be FFML before it is used to avoid possible salary overpayments and to ensure application of the correct benefit.

Leave Hours

Emergency Paid Sick Leave:

  • Federal Emergency Sick Leave (FESL) is 80 hours or two weeks proportional and prorated to the employment percentage.
  • Once approved, the applicable leave balance will be added to the employees record in the Leave and Time Worked Reporting System. 
  • This leave may be taken consecutively or intermittently in full-day or half-day increments.
  • In addition to the required application, the usual leave request procedures should be followed by employees seeking approval for FFCRA Emergency Sick Leave. Employees must still inform their supervisors that they’ll be absent and update their status periodically.

Expanded Federal Family and Medical Leave:

  • Similar to other categories of Family Medical Leave (FMLA), FFCRA provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected absence from work during a 12-month period proportional and prorated to the employment percentage.
  • Time taken under FFML is cumulative with other FMLA time taken during the year, to a total of no more than 12 weeks total, including the FFML period. 
  • This leave may be taken consecutively or intermittently in full-day or half-day increments.
  • The usual leave request procedures should be followed by employees seeking FFML. Employee must notify their supervisor and the HR Leave Team of time that will be FFML before it is used to avoid possible salary overpayments and to ensure application of the correct benefit. 

Documentation

Employees can apply for this leave by completing the FFCRA – FESL Form and the Documentation Request form, both available by request from Human Resources, along with providing other requested documentation depending on the individual situation. Contact the HR Leave Team or the HR Service Center to request the form.

Recording hours

Recording Emergency Paid Sick Leave - full- and part-time faculty and staff:

  • Employees can enter the FESL code into their leave reports once the application has been approved and the leave hours have been added to available balances.
  • This leave will expire on Dec. 31, 2020 and will not:
    • Calculate toward overtime or compensatory time accruals.
    • Be paid out, carried over, or used to extend employment.
  • The full number of hours used (either full-day or half-day increments) must be recorded in the Leave and Time Worked Reporting System, even when the benefit time is only eligible for two-thirds pay. 
  • The HR Leave Team will use the entries in the leave system to ensure that payments are issued correctly.  

Recording Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Federal Family and Medical Leave - full and part-time faculty and staff:

  • If an employee is taking leave under BOTH the Federal Emergency Sick Leave Act and the Federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act, the 80 hours of Emergency Sick Leave will be coded as FMES and the remaining time, up to an additional 10 weeks, will be coded as FFML.
  • Employees or leave representatives can enter the FFML code in the leave system once the application has been submitted and the use of the benefit is approved.
  • The benefit is applied in full- or half-day increments, prorated based on employment percentage.
  • This leave will expire on Dec. 31, 2020 and will not:
    • Calculate toward overtime or compensatory time accruals.
    • Be paid out, carried over, or used to extend employment.

Recording Federal Family and Medical Leave - wage and adjunct faculty employees:

  • The department leave representative or other designee should maintain FFML hours for adjunct faculty, wage, and student wage employees in a spreadsheet and submit to the HR Leave Team
  • The spreadsheet should include the employee’s last name, VT ID number, the date for which FFML should be applied and the number of FFML hours for each impacted day, which can only be recorded in full- or half-day increments.
  • The information for wage employees should be submitted to the Leave Team at the end of the wage for pay period on the 1st and 16th of every month.
  • The information for adjunct faculty should be submitted to the Leave Team on the closeout date for the salaried payroll.
  • These hours will be entered for payment by the Leave Team. No entries should be made by the employee or the department for PHEL for wage employees in TimeClock Plus or Banner.