Paid leave collage Thanks to theFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act, employees now haveadditional coverage if they're out of work, and employers have helpto fund that additional leave. (Image: Shutterstock)

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At Lincoln Financial Group, we support the 30 million smallbusiness owners who employ nearly half the nation's workforce. Manyof these employers are our group insurance benefits clients and weunderstand that they-and their employees-are navigating through therapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation.

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These business owners consistently put their employeesfirst—nearly all employers (96%) say they "love" their employeesand 95% would do anything to help their employees build a betterfinancial future for themselves and their loved ones, according toLincoln Financial Group's 2019 Love and Responsibility EmployerSurvey.

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Related: 3 ways to help your employees get through thecoronavirus pandemic

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Thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act(FFCRA), employees now have additional coverage if they're out ofwork, and employers have help to fund that additional leave.

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While some businesses are temporarily closed, this legislationis in effect until the end of 2020. Here are the top three thingsfor small businesses (those with less than 500 employees) to knowabout this legislation:

1. Employees' COVID-19-related absences are covered for paidsick leave.

More guidance will be coming from the Department of Labor, butat a high level, employees caring for children due to school ordaycare closures; those in self-quarantine due to COVID-19exposure; those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who are seekingmedical diagnosis; and anyone caring for someone in isolation orunder quarantine is protected and receives paid leave.

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Full-time employees are eligible for 10 days of paid sick leave,while part-time employees' eligibility is based on the averagenumber of hours worked over a two-week period. The benefit amountsare as follows:

  • A maximum of $511 per day and $5,110 total when they arequarantined, in isolation, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and areawaiting diagnosis, or have COVID-19.
  • A maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 total for those who can'twork because they have a child at home due to a school/daycareclosure or they are caring for others in quarantine, isolation, orexperiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting diagnosis, or haveCOVID-19.

2. Extended paid leave for childcare closures and other reasonsare covered for up to 12 weeks.

Under the new law, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act(FMLA) requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees,and most public employers, to provide up to 12 weeks ofjob-protected paid leave due to closed schools and childcareproviders resulting from the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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The first 10 days of the FMLA leave may be unpaid, thenemployers pay two-thirds of the employee's regular rate of pay perday, based on the number of hours an employee is normally scheduledto work. For those with varying work schedules, the total is basedon the average number of hours scheduled over the previoussix-month period or the reasonable expectation of hours at time ofhire.

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Employees may need to provide documentation of theschool/childcare closure to their employer. This could include arecommendation from a health care provider that an employee hassymptoms or should be quarantined, evidence of exposure or noticeof school or childcare provider closure.

3. This legislation helps you and your employees.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, one-third of smallbusinesses with less than 500 employees have no funds forunexpected expenses. However, a refundable payroll tax credit toemployers will cover 100% of the cost of the wages impacted by thislegislation, and businesses with fewer than 50 employees can applyfor an exemption if the leave provisions have the potential tocause the business to fail. Health care providers and emergencyresponders are also excluded.

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Eric Resienwitz headshotEricReisenwitz is senior vice president and interim presidentof group protection at Lincoln Financial Group. More informationabout the FFCRA can be found here


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