The Down and Dirty Breakdown of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—CLARIFICATION

Late last night, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law. Honestly, I could write a five-page description of everything that this law provides and does not provide, but that’s not how I roll, and I think you want to read about this in plain English.

So, here we go, in bullet point format for those who think in outline form like me:

  • Deadline for compliance: April 2, 2020
  • Employee Eligibility:  employees who have worked for the employer for at least 30 calendar days
  • Applicability: employers with less than 500 employees, i.e., small and medium-sized employers
  • Bases and amounts of Leave:
    • Family. 12 weeks – 10 of them paid family for school and childcare-related COVID-19 absences if employee cannot work (excludes telework)
      • First 10 days can be unpaid but employee can use any other available paid time off that they have
      • Rate if taking care of a family member who is in quarantine, or a child whose school or daycare is closed: 2/3 of employee’s regular pay, at least
    • Sick. 80 hours of paid coronavirus-related sick pay if employee has been told to quarantine by the government or a doctor because of coronavirus, shows symptoms, or caring for a family member who is doing the same OR for child care when child care is no longer available because of coronavirus
      • Note: If you can telework, you are not sick. That is, paid sick leave is available if employee cannot work or telework because of a qualifying coronavirus-related absence
      • This is in addition any other state-mandated paid sick leave. See, for example, New York City, California, Maryland, Montgomery County, MD, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, etc.

Note: employers, you can always pay more, i.e., you can be more generous than the law requires

  • What it is NOT for:
    • Self-quarantine or caring for a family member who is sick or quarantined
  • Cap:
    • $200/day or $10K all together for family leave
    • $511/day and $5,110 all together for sick leave for the employee (for illness or quarantine) and $200/day and $2K all together for any other coronavirus-qualifying reason (i.e., school closure)
  • Tax credits available:
    • 100% entitlement to employers providing these benefits taken against quarterly social security payments
    • for self-employed people, this is limited
  • Job protection if there is still a job to go back to.


  • immediate relief for millions of employees
  • allows the U.S. Department Of Labor to issue regulations that exempt small employers (with less than 50 employees) to apply paid sick days


  • financial problems for business who cannot afford to pay
  • excludes employers of health care employees or emergency responders to exclude such employees from coverage


  • Cash flow problems for employers who cannot afford this.
  • What other gaps can you think of?

Questions? Contact me or any of the FisherBroyles employment group. We’ve got you and will get you through this.

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Amy Epstein Gluck

Amy Epstein Gluck has represented individuals and corporate clients in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and various federal district courts for more than twenty years. Ms. Epstein Gluck’s current practice areas include employment law—advising on and drafting employment agreements; handling employment negotiations, severance agreements, noncompete and nondisclosure agreements, “wrongful terminations” and other EEO matters; representation at the EEOC level; advising employers about discrimination laws and how to remain in compliance, and employment negotiations.