Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748)
On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), or known as H.R. 6201. Substantial changes on paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and expansion of unemployment insurance, in addition to other important provisions, were made.
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748), a nearly $2 trillion fiscal measure, was signed into law. The CARES Act, which made several amendments to the FFCRA, provides emergency assistance and healthcare response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
This fact sheet, focusing on provisions that mainly affect the restaurant workers that we serve, presents the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave, Paid Family and Medical Leave and Expansion of Unemployment Insurance sections, as amended by the CARES Act.
PAID SICK LEAVE
- Provides 2 weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds (about 66 percent) the full-time employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because of one of the following circumstances:
- Employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing Covid-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Employee needs to care for an individual subject to quarantine or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to Covid-19.
- Employee is experiencing any other “substantially similar condition” as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
- Part-time employees are also covered. The number of paid sick leave is based on the employee’s average hours worked in a two-week period.
- Paid sick leave is immediately available, which takes effect on April 1, 2020, and expires on December 31, 2020 (cannot roll over to next year), regardless of how long the employee has been working for the employer.
- Employees who are covered by existing paid leave policies, paid sick time are in addition to any existing leave.
- Employers cannot require employees to use their existing accrued leave time before using this emergency leave.
- Employers also cannot require their employees to find a replacement worker if they need to take this emergency paid sick leave.
- Employees are protected against retaliation, including job loss, discipline and/or discrimination, for using their emergency paid sick leave, filing a complaint, or testifying in an action under the law.
- Exempts large employers with 500 or more employees (which means that it excludes Applebee’s, IHOP, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel and other major restaurant chains in the United States from providing paid sick leave to their workers). Over 35 percent of restaurant workers are excluded from this benefit.
- DOL offers waivers to some employers with less than 50 employees when the paid sick leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of their business.
- Does not actually provide full salary pay to employees using paid sick time. Employers only have to pay up to $511 per day up to $5,110 total for paid sick leave, or $200 per day up to $2,000 total to care for a child.
- Requires employees to be employed with their employer for at least 30 calendar days (Note: Under the 30 calendar days of employment requirement, an employee is still eligible if the employee was laid off by an employer on or after March 1, 2020, had worked for the employer for at least 30 of the last 60 calendar days prior to the individual’s layoff, and was rehired by the employer.
PAID FAMILY & MEDICAL LEAVE
- Provides up to 12 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work (or telework) due to a demonstrable need for leave to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to Covid-19.
- Provides job protection for employees who take public health emergency family and medical leave — including entitlement to return to their job position or to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay and other terms/condition of employment — for an employer with 25 or more employees.
- Exempts large employers with 500 or more employees (which means that it excludes Applebee’s, IHOP, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel and other major restaurant chains in the United States from providing paid family and medical leave to their workers).
- DOL offers waivers to some employers with less than 50 employees when such paid family and medical leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of their business.
- An employer with less than 25 employees does not have to restore employees who took paid family and medical leave to their position if all of the following apply:
- The position held by the employee when the leave began no longer exists due to economic conditions or other changes to operating conditions that affect employment.
- The employer took reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay and other terms/condition of employment.
- If the reasonable efforts to restore the employee fails, the employer takes reasonable efforts for a period of 1 year to contact the employee if an equivalent position becomes available.
- Does not apply to employees who work for the employer less than 30 days prior to being laid off (Note: Under the 30 calendar days of employment requirement, an employee is still eligible if the employee was laid off by an employer on or after March 1, 2020, had worked for the employer for at least 30 of the last 60 calendar days prior to the individual’s layoff, and was rehired by the employer).Rather than a full salary, pay is only equal to at most two-thirds of regular pay.
- Employers do not have to pay more than $200/day and $10,000/total.
- Employers are not required to pay during the first 10 days of leave.
- Only effective 15 days after enactment of the law.
- Can only be used to care for a son or daughter who lacks school or child care because of the pandemic, limiting employees themselves who need longer-term leave to recover from COVID-19 or who are providing critical caregiving to a loved one affected by COVID-19.
For more information on the paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave, visit:
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (UI)
- Provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits (cap includes weeks worker received regular UI or extended benefits).
- Provides a $600/week increase in UI benefits on top of whatever a worker would normally receive in their state for the next 4 months (begins April 5, 2020 and ends July 31, 2020).
- Provides unemployment assistance for certain workers (part-time, self-employed, independent contractors, furloughed, limited recent work history, and others) who are ineligible for regular UI. This benefit applies to gig and delivery workers.
- Provides a pro-rated unemployment benefit for workers whose employers reduce work hours, known as work sharing or short-time compensation program, instead of laying off workers.
To find out how to apply for unemployment in your state visit:
A state-by-state summary of how each state determines weekly unemployment benefits amounts can be found here:
For information about how your state’s unemployment agency is responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency visit:
- It will take six to 10 weeks for the government to disburse this money. That’s a long wait for laid-off or unemployed restaurant workers with no paycheck coming in due to restaurant closures.
- Excludes individuals who have the ability to telework with pay, or are receiving sick leave or other paid leave benefits.
- Eligibility for unemployment assistance will sunset on December 31, 2020, without any extensions.
- Excludes workers who are undocumented or have no work authorization in the United States.
ONE-TIME CASH PAYMENT
- Provides a $1,200 payment per eligible adult and $500 per eligible minor child.
- Taxable income is not required to claim benefit, but must have a work-eligible social security number (SSN) and not be a dependent of another tax filer.
- Payment is based on the individual’s 2019 tax return, if filed, or 2018 return.
- Excludes undocumented workers or those without a SSN.
- If you did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019, you will receive the benefit after you file in 2020.
- Applies only to individuals earning less than $75,000, $112,500 for head of households, and $150,000 for joint filers.
ROC UNITED RECOMMENDATIONS:
To resolve the gaps in several provisions, ROC United is making the following urgent requests to be included in the Fourth Stimulus Package:
- Eliminate the 500 or more employees threshold for paid sick days and paid leave, so it applies to all workers. Also, eliminate the ability of DOL and OMB to grant exemptions for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, so that more workers will be covered.
- Expand the One-Time Cash Payment to undocumented immigrants or all that have no Social Security Number. Loosen Unemployment Insurance (UI) requirements, especially for undocumented restaurant and service workers.
- Require OSHA to issue an immediate (and subsequently a permanent) temporary emergency standard on COVID-19 response, and provide additional resources and mandate for enforcement, to include ensuring employers provide training and Personal Protective Equipment for frontline workers in the retail and hospitality sectors.
- Expand the purposes for taking paid sick days to include care for yourself or your family member, including an adult child with disability, and for experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (in addition to the existing purposes of caring for yourself or a family member if you are diagnosed with or seeking a diagnosis of COVID-19, or if you are caring for a child whose school has closed)
- Require a national moratorium on evictions and utility shutoffs, so that workers hit by this crisis will not also have to worry about losing their homes and basic services in a time of extreme vulnerability
- Expand Food assistance, including additional funds and reducing red tape for accessing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) including eliminating public charge provisions, Women Infants and Children (WIC) and other federal food benefits.
ROC United has sent a letter to Congress that includes Other Recommendations to cover the loopholes in the CARES Act.
Note: These analyses are based on data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, Center for Economic and Policy Research Center and national partners including NLAN, CLASP, A Better Balance, and NWLC. The information will be updated regularly.