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Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

On March 18, 2020, the FFCRA became law, known as Public Law No. 116-127. The FFCRA becomes effective 15 days after enactment, or on April 2, 2020, and terminates on December 31, 2020. On March 20, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”), and the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) provided some preliminary guidance on the recently-enacted FFCRA, which amends and fundamentally expands the FMLA for small- and medium-sized businesses, defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The IRS, Treasury, and DOL did this through IRS Notice IR-2020-57 (“Notice”). You can read the Notice and access additional information by clicking on this link to the IRS website. You can also read the full text of the FFRCA at this link.

The FFCRA applies to small and medium sized businesses, defined as all American businesses or tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees that are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave under the Act. The Act affords employees up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid childcare leave when the employee’s children’s schools are closed, or childcare providers are unavailable, due to COVID-19. The Act also creates a refundable paid sick leave credit and paid childcare credit for eligible employers, as well as a break from payroll tax liability.  

Here are some key takeaways from the Notice and the new FFCRA:

Does the FFCRA authorize paid sick leave for workers?

The FFCRA provides employees with paid leave either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. More specifically:

What does the FFCRA provide to help employers?

Enforcement and Penalties

First, a word of caution. Employers may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer to the employee before the employee uses the paid sick leave under the FFCRA. Nor may employers discharge, discipline or discriminate against an employee who takes leave in accordance with the FFCRA. Finally, employers found in violation of the FFCRA will be subject to the penalties and enforcement described in the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. However, the DOL will observe a temporary period of non-enforcement for the first 30 days after the Act takes effect, so long as the employer has acted reasonably and in good faith to comply with the Act.


Employers may receive reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the FFCRA. More specifically: 

Tax Relief

Employers also will be able to obtain tax relief for 100% of the amounts of qualifying sick and family and medical leave that they paid. More specifically: 

Does the FFCRA offer any relief from its requirements for small businesses?

In cases where the viability of the business is threatened, employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the requirement to provide leave to an employee in order to care for a child whose school is closed, or childcare is unavailable. Additionally, employers that employ health care providers or emergency responders may elect to exclude such employees from the coverage of the FFCRA.

More extensive guidance will be issued in the coming days.