The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken the world by storm in recent months, forcing the closure of business, cities, states, and even entire countries.
In many states, businesses deemed non-essential have been ordered to close in an effort to quell the spread of the virus. This has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and their main sources of income, leaving many unsure of how they will pay for housing, food, transportation, and more.
In response, Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in an effort to provide some financial stability to Americans suddenly out of work.
Below, we discuss the ramifications of this new law and how you may benefit from it.
What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions are in effect until December 31, 2020, and include the following:
Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular pay rate where the employee is unable to work because they are quarantined by a federal, state, or local government order, or by the advice of a healthcare provider. This provision also covers those who are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work due to the need to care for an individual subject to quarantine pursuant by a federal, state, or local government order, or by the advice of a healthcare provider. This provision also covers those who need to care for a child under 18 years of age whose school or child care provider is closed due to reasons related to COVID-19.
Additionally, certain employers must provide the following provision to employees they have employed for at least 30 days:
Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular pay rate where an employee is unable to work due to the need to care for a child whose school of child care provider is closed due to reasons related to COVID-19.
Who is Eligible Under the FFCRA?
Employers required to provide the aforementioned provisions to employees under this new law include the following:
Certain public employers
Private employers with fewer than 500 employees
Organizations operating under the federal government are exempt from this new law as most federal employees are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was not amended by the FFCRA.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from these requirements if the requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.
Employees’ Rights Under the FFCRA
It’s important to remember that the FFCRA protects your right as an employee to take time off from work for reasons related to COVID-19 without fear of losing pay or your position.
Employers are required to post a notice of the new FFCRA requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. Additionally, employers may not fire, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who takes paid leave under the FFCRA and files a complaint against their employer related to the FFCRA.
How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits
While the FFCRA will help millions of Americans during this time of economic uncertainty and instability, there are millions more who will not receive financial assistance under this new law.
If you worked for a private organization with more than 500 employees, or if you worked for a small business with fewer than 50 employees that was able to get an exemption from the FFCRA’s requirements, then your best option is to file for unemployment benefits.
Federal and state governments provide a variety of unemployment benefits and aid programs to those who lost their job through no fault of their own.
Unemployment Benefits in Utah
Each state runs its own unemployment benefits program. In the state of Utah, unemployment benefits are run through the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS). In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits in Utah, you must meet the following requirements:
You must be unemployed through no fault of your own.
You must have earned at least a minimum amount in wages before you were unemployed.
You must be able and available to work and you must be actively seeking unemployment.
Nearly every state reviews your recent work history and earnings during a one-year “base period” to determine your eligibility. In Utah, the requirements include the following:
You must have earned at least $3,300 during the entire base period.
You must have earned at least one-and-a-half times your earnings in the highest-paid quarter of the period.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly pay rate will be 1/26 of your wages in your highest-paid quarter of the base period, minus $5.
The current maximum you can receive through unemployment is $496 per week. You may receive benefits for a minimum of 10 weeks and a maximum of 26 weeks. However, in times of high unemployment (such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic), additional weeks of benefits may become available.
Lost Your Income Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic? We’re Here for You
If you have lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and you’re having difficultly recovering what you are owed by your employer under the FFCRA, our team is ready to help.
We know it can be confusing and overwhelming trying to sort through issues of eligibility under these new laws, and we’re here to make the process easier for you.
Contact Pearson Butler today at (800) 265-2314 to schedule a consultation with our team.