The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law March 18, is effective April 2 and in affect through Dec. 31.

 The law applies to private businesses with fewer than 500 employees and all public employers. The Labor Secretary may grant waivers to businesses with 50 or fewer employees if paying the leave “would jeopardize the viability of the business.” 

More guidance and details are available from the U.S. Department of Labor.


Here are the basics of the new legislation:


  • Must provide to employees if they are unable to work or telework because they are quarantined; they have been advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine;   the employee is experiencing symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to quarantine or the employee is caring for a child or school or place of care has been closed or is unavailable.
  • All employees are covered no matter how long they have been employed.
  • Should be available in addition to any paid sick leave employers currently provide.
  • Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time. Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick time equivalent to the number of hours the employee works, on average, over a two-week period.
  • If employees are out of work because of their own health condition, pay is calculated based on the employee’s regular rate (or applicable minimum wage if it is greater), but limited to $511 per day and $5,110 total.
  • If their leave is related to being a caregiver they are to be paid two-thirds their regular pay, capped at $200 per day and $2,000 total.


  • Provides 12 weeks of paid leave to employees who are unable to work because they need to care for their children and their school or childcare provider has been closed or is unavailable.
  • First 10 days are unpaid, but employees may elect to be covered by new paid sick leave or employers paid-time-off policies, which would reduce the family leave to 10 weeks.
  • Eligible employees must have been employed for at least 30 calendar days.
  • Pay should be at least two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay (or the applicable minimum wage, if greater) multiplied by the number of hours the employee would normally work. The payout is capped at $200/day or $10,000 total.


Employers who are required to pay for family leave or sick leave will be eligible for a series of refundable tax credits, or they can withhold their normal, federal payroll taxes equal to the amount of leave they have paid. More guidance from the IRS is expected.

Sources: Janet Hayes and Caitlyn Luedtke Elam, Lewis Thomason law firm; National Law Review.