Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Announced on 03/25/2020 via Penn State Today (Click to read full article): Last week, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Under the law, group health plan -- including self-insured group health plans, like Penn State's -- are required to provide first-dollar coverage for COVID-19 testing and related medical office, urgent care, and emergency room costs, effective immediately. All non-COVID services and visits will still have member cost share. Questions regarding coverage for COVID-19 tests under the Penn State health care plans should be directed to Aetna at 855-878-4197.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act), which requires certain employers like Penn State to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from Wednesday, April 1, 2020 through Thursday, December 31, 2020.

Basic principles of the Act are:

  • You must be eligible based on your specific work unit, as some units have been exempted due to DOL guidelines
  • You must have a qualifying leave reason outlined in FFCRA
  • FFCRA leave is not intermittent; therefore, if eligible and approved for leave, you will not be working any hours
  • For Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL), you will receive either 100% (capped at $511/day or $5,100 total) or 2/3 (capped at $200/day or $2,000 total) depending on the qualifying reason
  • The expanded Family Medical Leave (FML) of 10 weeks is at 2/3 pay up to a maximum of $200/day or $10,000 total
  • Additionally, FML is available for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period, so you would be using FMLA hours that may be needed for other purposes in the future
  • Please see the below Frequently Asked Questions for more information on school related situations

Penn State Emergency Paid Sick Leave and FMLA Public Health Emergency Leave Guidelines effective Wednesday, April 1, 2020. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine if I am eligible for Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave?

Contact Absence Management via email at [email protected] or call 814-865-1782 to discuss your personal situation. The team will determine your eligibility (as some work units have been exempted due to DOL guidelines and you must have a qualifying leave reason outlined in FFCRA), as well as answer any questions you have specific to FFCRA at that time.

If I am eligible, how do I request FFCRA leave?

If eligible, Absence Management will initiate the leave in Workday for you to complete and submit the needed documentation on your behalf.

What reasons are eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)?

  1. To comply with 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 seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. To care for an individual who is subject to an order as described in (1) above or has been advised to self-quarantine as described in (2) above;
  5. To care for the employee’s child/children if a school or place of care is closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition as specified by the designated Federal agencies.

Is EPSL in addition to earned time off?

Yes, the 80 hours of EPSL are over and above any earned sick time.

When can EPSL be used?

EPSL is immediately available for all full- and part- time employees regardless of how long they have been employed by the University.

  • Full-time employees are eligible for eighty (80) hours of EPSL
  • Part-time employees are eligible for the number of hours the employee works, on average, over a two-week period.

How much will I be paid under EPSL?

Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) will be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, as determined under the FLSA. For leave under the following reasons, this rate will be the employee’s regular rate of pay, capped at $511 per day ($5,110 in the aggregate).

  • To comply with a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

For leave under the following reasons, this rate will be two-thirds (2/3) of the employee’s regular rate of pay, capped at $200/day ($2,000 in the aggregate).

  • To care for an individual who is subject to an order as described in (1) above or has been advised to self-quarantine as described in (2) above;
  • To care for the employee’s child/children if a school or place of care is closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition as specified by the designated Federal agencies.

When can an employee use Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)?

  • When the employee is unable to work (or work remotely) due to the need to care for the employee’s child, who is under the age 18 and their school or place of childcare has been closed,
  • Or if the child care provider of such child is unavailable.
  • PHEL runs concurrently with FMLA, so FMLA used within the previous 12 months will reduce the amount of eligible PHEL.
  • In each case, this must be because of a COVID-19 related emergency declared by a federal, state, or local authority.

How much will I be paid under PHEL?

The first ten (10) days of PHEL will be unpaid unless the employee has another form of paid leave available (eligible forms include; vacation, sick, family sick, or compensatory time) and elects to use that paid time to cover the unpaid 10-day period. Emergency Sick Pay Leave can be used for the first 10 days and counts against the 12-week FMLA period. PHEL of 10 weeks is paid at:

  • 2/3 pay up to a maximum of $200/day or $10,000 total OR
  • 100% pay IF you choose to use your own vacation or personal holiday time

Is PHEL available if I have already used FMLA in the past?

FMLA used over the past 12 months is included in the calculation to determine the amount of PHEL an employee is eligible for. Absence Management will determine the exact amount of PHEL for which an employee is eligible.

If my child’s daycare or school is open, but my child has their own health condition that requires them to NOT attend based on doctor’s recommendation, am I eligible for FFCRA?

Yes. Please review the Department of Labor FFCRA Questions and Answers for more information. Please contact Absence Management via email at [email protected] or call (814) 865-1782 for more information.

If my child’s daycare is open, but I am uncomfortable with my child attending, am I eligible for FFCRA?

No, in that situation, it is your choice for your child to not attend daycare, though the daycare is open. You may be eligible for a personal leave or able to use your earned time if you are unable to work while caring for your child. Please review the Department of Labor FFCRA Questions and Answers for more information. Please contact Absence Management via email at [email protected] or call (814) 865-1782 for information on personal leaves.

If my child’s school is open, but I am uncomfortable with my child attending and choose for them to attend via a remote learning program, am I eligible for FFCRA?

No, in that situation, it is your choice for your child to not attend school, though the school is open for in-person learning. You may be eligible for a personal leave or able to use your earned time if you are unable to work while caring for your child. Please review the Department of Labor FFCRA Questions and Answers for more information. Please contact Absence Management via email at [email protected] or call (814) 865-1782 for information on personal leaves.

If my child’s school is open, but the school is choosing to use an alternate day basis (in-person and remote instruction), am I eligible for FFCRA?

Yes, FFCRA will be available to be used in situations where your child's school has determined that an alternate day basis for in-person and remote instruction will be followed. Please review the Department of Labor FFCRA Questions and Answers for more information. Please contact Absence Management via email at [email protected] or call (814) 865-1782 for more information.