The Impact of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on California Employers

The Impact of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on California Employers

In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, President Donald J. Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) (“FFCRA”) into law on March 18, 2020. The new law has several important implications for California employers including amending the Family and Medical Leave Act and providing additional paid sick leave for employees. Both apply to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. However, the Labor Department could provide an exemption for businesses with less than 50 employees if they would go out of business by providing additional leave.  In addition, some employers such as healthcare providers and emergency responders can decline to provide leave for employees who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 virus. The law will go into effect on April 1 and expires on December 31. One part of the new law protects employees’ jobs, and the other provides pay while on leave.

FMLA Expansion – Caring for Family Members

The new bill expands the FMLA on a temporary basis to apply to any employer with less than 500 employees. It also lowers the eligibility requirements to any employee who has worked at least 30 days. FMLA previously went into effect for employees after they have worked for 12 months (which do not have to be consecutive) for their employer for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months.

Under the FFCRA, full-time and part-time employees are entitled to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for their minor children in the event of a school closure or if their childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.

The 12-weeks includes two weeks of unpaid leave, followed by 10 weeks of paid leave. Employees may use accrued sick leave or vacation pay during the first 10 days. Eligible employees will receive no less than two-thirds of their usual pay (up to $200 per-day/$10,000 aggregate).

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

California already requires paid sick leave. FFCRA provides for additional paid sick leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 virus. The length of leave and amount of pay depends on the need for the leave. Generally speaking, the benefits are greater for employees who are quarantined, isolated or ill than it is for those who need time off to care for another.

Leave for Illness-Related Issues

FFCRA provides 80 hours of fully paid time off ($511 per-day/$5,110 total) for eligible full-time employees affected by self-quarantine, or who seek a diagnosis of, or receive treatment for COVID-19. Eligible part-time employees are entitled to fully paid time off (up to $511 per-day/$5,110 total) equal to the number of hours they work in a typical two-week period.

Impact of Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Emergency paid sick leave will not carry over to 2021. Further, it must be provided in addition to California mandatory paid sick leave

Cost of Paid Sick Leave

Employers are responsible for the cost of emergency paid sick leave. However, it is our understanding that they will be fully reimbursed by the federal government within three months. Reimbursements will cover both the wages paid and the employer’s contribution to employee health insurance premiums during the period of leave. Employers should contact their tax preparer for any clarification regarding tax implications of this new law.

Employer Notice

Each covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises a notice of FFCRA requirements.


Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who takes paid sick leave under the FFCRA and files a complaint or institutes a proceeding under or related to the FFCRA.

If you have questions about how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act affects your business and employment practices, contact one of our employment attorneys at (949) 222-2008.

By Jehan N. Jayakumar

Newsletter Signup

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Orange County

2424 S.E. Bristol St., Suite 300
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 222-2008 – Phone

Map & Directions [+]


Los Angeles

500 S. Grand Ave., Suite 2050
Los Angeles, CA, 90071
(213) 613-1683 – Phone

Map & Directions [+]