The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) was recently passed to protect employees during a public health emergency, like the COVID-19 pandemic. This new law expands the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by allowing an employee to take leave related to a public health emergency. To qualify for benefits under the EFMLEA an employee must be unable to work because they are required to care for a minor child during work hours as a result of that child’s school or child care being closed or unavailable during a public health emergency.

The EFMLEA applies to both full-time and part-time employees so long as they have been on the employer’s payroll for at least 30 calendar days. Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave. Generally, the first ten days of leave are unpaid, but an employee can use accrued paid leave or emergency paid sick leave during this time. The remaining 10 weeks are paid and the rate of pay depends on several factors including the employee’s average pay. Benefits are capped at $200 per day and with a maximum benefit of $10,000 total for the entire leave period.

The EFMLEA applies businesses with fewer than 500 employees. However, employers involved in healthcare or emergency response are exempt from this new law because their employees may be deemed necessary to combat the public health emergency. EFMLA is also job protecting so once the leave is over the employee must be restored to the same or equivalent position unless the employer has fewer than 25 employees and the employee’s position is no longer in exists due to operation changes that occurred because of a public health emergency, such as a downturn in business. If a small employer does not return an employee to their same position or equivalent position because of operational changes, then that employer must make an effort to contact the displaced employee if an equivalent position becomes available within one years’ time.

If your employer doesn’t allow you to access to leave under the EFMLEA, then you should contact an attorney to discuss your options. Cooney Law Offices. We can help!