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Families First Coronavirus Act Claims Los Angeles

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) was signed into law by President Trump, and took effect April 1, 2020. It is the second major law enacted to address the growing COVID-19 pandemic, and imposes significant obligations on most small and mid-size businesses. Requiring certain employees to be provided with paid sick leave, and/or job protection under a broad new category of family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). 

If you believe you are a victim of an Act violation, please contact us immediately to schedule a free consultation. The Los Angeles employment law attorneys at Rise Law Firm will aggressively advocate for your rights as an employee. 

Families First Coronavirus Act Eligibility 

Any employee of a covered employer is eligible for the Act benefits detailed below. Covered employers are those with less than 500 employees and more than 50. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be partially exempt from the requirements, if providing paid leave will jeopardize the viability of the business. 

Covered employers also do not have to provide employees with paid leave if the only reasons they are unable to work are solely due to business determinations or closures. It is limited to specific reasons related to COVID-19 listed below. 

Paid Sick Leave

The specified employers must provide an employee with partially paid sick leave if it is related to the following six permissible reasons stated in the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”): 

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine, or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine order, or an individual who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  5. The employee is caring for his or her son or daughter, whose school or childcare facility has been closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions. 
  6. The employee is experiencing a 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. (Any “substantially similar conditions” have not yet been identified)

Full time employees are eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours) of partially paid sick leave, and part-time employees are eligible for up to the typical number of hours that they work in a normal two-week period

Rate of Pay 

  • Employees who must take leave for reasons 1-3 must receive their regular rate of pay, up to a maximum of $511 per day and $5,110 in total. 
  • Employees taking leave for reasons 4-6 must receive two-thirds of their regular rate of pay, up to a maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 in total.

Employers can require their employee to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to keep receiving paid sick time. Additionally, this emergency paid sick leave is not carried over from one year to the next and is not payable upon termination. 

Paid Family Leave

The Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) temporarily amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and provides both unpaid and partially paid leave to employees who have been employed for at least 30 days by a specified employer (less than 500 employees). 

Employees can take up to 12 weeks of job protected leave if they are unable to work (including remotely), due to their child’s school or daycare facility closing, if the child’s caregiver is unavailable, or due to a public health emergency related to COVID-19 and declared by a Federal, State, or local authority. 

Rate of Pay

The first 10 days of EFMLEA are unpaid, but employees have the option of using any available paid time off they have accrued, during that time. For the remaining 10 weeks, employers must provide: 

  • Two-thirds of the employee’s normal rate, for the usual weekly hours they would be scheduled, up to a maximum of $200 per day or $10,000 total. 

Unemployment Insurance Compensation

Temporary exceptions have also been applied to expand California unemployment insurance benefits, in an effort to help more people impacted by COVID-19. Those include: 

Waived Waiting Period

There is no longer a seven-day waiting period for claims beginning on or after January 19, 2020. 

No Work Search Requirements

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) is not requiring applicants to search for work in order to certify for benefits. 

Extended Unemployment Benefits

If your unemployment benefits have run out, then under the CARES Act, claims can be extended by up to 13 weeks as part of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. Once those weeks have been exhausted, you may be eligible to continue receiving benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Benefits are available under PUA for up to 39 weeks. To qualify for PUA, your regular UC and PEUC benefits must have been exhausted in fewer than 39 weeks. 

Protecting Employee Rights

If you have questions about a potential violation of the Act or of emergent laws regarding unemployment insurance compensation, please speak to one of our Los Angeles employment lawyers at Rise Law Firm. Call (310) 861-3303 or submit a free consultation request online.