Families first Coronavirus Response Act Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions employees and units may have regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This includes questions related to the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL).

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General

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Employees may apply for EFMLA or EPSL if they are unable to work or telework and meet the eligibility criteria under EPSL or EFMLA.

  • EFMLA: Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) expands the FMLA temporarily (until December 31, 2020) to provide 12 weeks of leave to care for of a minor child due to closing of school or daycare or unavailability of daycare because of COVID-19. The first two weeks of EFMLA leave are unpaid (but may be paid by the EPSL), while weeks 3-12 are paid with certain caps. All pay is at a rate of 2/3 an employee’s regular rate of pay.
  • EPSL: Creates the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSL) which provides for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, with caps, to take care of oneself or another individual due to quarantine, COVID-19 or similar symptoms or to take care of a minor child due to closing of school or daycare because of COVID-19. Pay is at full or 2/3 rate, depending on which of the six qualifying reasons an employee is taking EPSL.

Additional information on eligibility, key features, pay, and other important aspects of both the EFMLA and EPSL leave programs is available here.

It is effective on April 1, 2020, and applies to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

If the employee is unable to work or telework because:

  1. Employee subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
  2. Employee advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19
  3. Employee experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis
  4. The employee is caring for an individual subject or advised to quarantine or isolation
  5. The employee is caring for a minor child whose school or place of care is closed or child-care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions
  6. The employee is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

All employees are covered, including temporary and on-call employees, except for:

  • MSU Police Department staff
  • MSU Health Team staff and providers
  • Student Health & Wellness staff
  • Office of the University Physician staff
  • CVM critical infrastructure staff in the veterinary medical center and veterinary diagnostic laboratory

These employees are exempt from coverage under the acts because of the nature of their jobs.

Please note that all covered employees must meet the eligibility requirements for both EFMLA and EPSL.

Yes, both programs have caps on leave pay. 

EFMLA: The rate of leave pay under EFMLA is 2/3 of the employee’s regular pay with a cap of $200 per day.  The maximum payout under EFMLA is $10,000.

EPSL: The rate of leave pay under EPSL is either 2/3 or full regular pay, depending on why the EPSL is taken. 

  • If EPSL is taken to care for a family member or for childcare purpose (Reasons 4-6), the rate of leave pay is 2/3 of regular pay with a cap of $200 per day.  The maximum payout under EPSL for family care or childcare is $2,000.
  • If EPLS is taken to care for oneself (Reasons 1-3), the rate of leave pay is full regular pay with a cap of $511 per day.  The maximum payout under EPSL for selfcare is $5,110.

Yes, because you are unable to work or telework due to the Executive Orders (isolation order), at least until that order expires.

Yes, as long as you meet the criteria set forth in the acts which include:

  • a statement attesting that you cannot telework because you are caring for a child, under age 15 (or age 15 or over in special circumstances);
  • no one else suitable is able to do so;
  • documentation that the child’s school or daycare is closed or the daycare is unavailable.  

You must be caring for someone with whom you have a personal relationship.

EPSL reasons #2 and #3 may require medical documentation or evidence that an employee was seeking diagnosis. 

The term “health care provider” means a licensed doctor of medicine, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider permitted to issue a certification for purposes of the FMLA.

No, unless there is a health care provider’s note saying they are advising to self-quarantine.

Yes, you may have different reasons; a separate form is required for each reason.

No, an employee is limited to two weeks—or ten days—(80 hours for a full-time employee, or for a part-time employee, the number of hours equal to the average number of hours that the employee works over a typical two-week period) of paid sick leave for any combination of the qualifying reasons under the EPSL.

Yes, as long as you meet the criteria (i.e., no one else is able to give care in the household, school is closed, etc.).

You could qualify for reasons #2-6 under EPSL and EFMLA, but not reason #1 under EPSL (because you are able to work under the Isolation Order).

You could qualify for EPSL Reason #1, but not for the other five EPSL reasons or EFMLA.  This is because the reason you stopped working on March 23 or after due to the Executive Order, not childcare or any of the other reasons.

If the employee already has health coverage, the employee is entitled to continued group health coverage during the EFMLA or EPSL leave on the same terms as if they continued to work.

Yes, an employee may be eligible for both types of leave, but only for a total of 12 weeks of paid leave. The EPSL provides for an initial two weeks of paid leave, and thus covers the first 10 workdays of EFMLA, which are otherwise unpaid.

No. An employee may use the MSU hours through April 1, 2020, at which time those MSU provisions expire1. Effective April 1, 2020, the employee would need to qualify for hours under the EPSL and EFMLA.

The 80 hours of borrowed sick leave does not expire for employees that are exempted from EPSL and EFMLA coverage:

  • MSU Police Department staff
  • MSU Health Team staff and providers
  • Student Health & Wellness staff
  • Office of the University Physician staff
  • CVM critical infrastructure staff in the veterinary medical center and veterinary diagnostic laboratory

No. The 56 hours of leave can only be used through April 1, 2020.

Yes, the Acts require employers to provide the same (or a nearly equivalent) job to an employee who returns to work following leave.

No, but an employee that is taking EFMLA or EPSL cannot supplement those leaves with other types of leave.

On-Call Employees

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Student Employees

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Intermittent

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It depends on the reason. If you are a necessary employee who must come to the worksite, you cannot take EPSL intermittently for any reason except #5. For example, you cannot take intermittent leave if you have been deemed necessary to come to your worksite, but you have COVID symptoms. Those who are teleworking can potentially take EPSL intermittently, depending on the specific reason, if both supervisor and employee agree.

FMLA/EFMLA

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An eligible employee is entitled to paid sick leave under the EPSL regardless of how much leave they have taken under the FMLA. However, an employee may only take a combined total of 12 work weeks for FMLA or expanded family and medical leave reasons during the 12-month fiscal leave period. An employee’s eligibility for EFMLA depends on how much leave they have already taken during the 12-month fiscal year period.

Yes, if you have any EFMLA left during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The MSU FMLA year (which is the same as the MSU fiscal year) begins in July 1. At that point, employees get a new batch of 12 FMLA weeks. So, if you had only taken two weeks of EFMLA before July 1 (and haven’t reached the aggregate caps), you may be entitled to ten more weeks of EFMLA in the next fiscal year through December 31 when EFMLA expires.

You may be able to, if you qualify for both a Serious Health Condition under the FMLA and the criteria under EPSL.

Leave Processes

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For purposes of the EPSL, a full-time employee is an employee who is normally scheduled to work 40 or more hours per week. A part-time employee is an employee who is normally scheduled to work fewer than 40 hours per week. The EFMLA does not distinguish between full-time and part-time employees.

A part-time employee is entitled to leave equivalent to their average number of work hours in a two-week period. Therefore, you calculate hours of leave based on the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work. If the normal hours scheduled are unknown, or if the part-time employee’s schedule varies, you may use a six-month average to calculate the average daily hours.

The regular rate of pay which is used to calculate an employee’s paid leave under FFCRA is the average of his or her regular rate over a period of up to six months prior to the date on which the employee takes leave.