Emergency Leave & Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA was passed on March 18, 2020, in response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. The FFCRA applies to Portland State University (PSU) and creates new sick leave and family leave benefits to employees who must be absent from work due to COVID-19.

The FFCRA provides employees with two new leave benefits. These benefits are available as of April 1, 2020, and extend through December 31, 2020, and are summarized as follows:

 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Amount: PSU’s implementation of the FFCRA provides for two weeks of paid sick time (up to 80 hours or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent). The leave is paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Usage: If you have an existing sick leave balance when you need to take leave, you may elect whether to use your regular sick leave or to use this Emergency Paid Sick Leave. Importantly, this emergency leave is provided to you in addition to any sick leave the employee already has accrued.

Eligibility Requirements: This emergency benefit applies to all employees, regardless of the length of employment.

How PSU’s implementation is different than FFCRA:

  • While the federal FFCRA limits the use of this emergency sick leave to COVID-19 related reasons, consistent with Interim President Percy’s commitment to the campus when the University limited its on-campus operations on March 18, PSU will not limit the use of the leave to COVID-19 related reasons. Instead, PSU will permit all employees to use this additional emergency sick leave for any circumstance outlined in PSU’s sick leave policy
  • Additionally, while the FFCRA limits Emergency Paid Sick Leave under certain circumstances to two-thirds pay, PSU will pay 100% of an employee’s regular rate of pay for all Emergency Paid Sick Leave.  

Expanded Family and Medical Leave

Purpose: Under the FFCRA, employees who are unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 will have access to 12 weeks of expanded FMLA leave.

Pay Status: The first two of these weeks are unpaid, although an employee may use the Emergency Paid Sick Leave described above (or other accrued leave) to be paid during the first two weeks. The remaining 10 weeks are paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay up to $200/day to a maximum of $10,000.

Limitations: Please note that the original 12 week FMLA maximum leave is not extended by the FFCRA and paid FMLA is only available for leave taken for reasons dictated by the FFCRA.

Eligibility: This expanded FMLA benefit applies to all employees who have been employed at PSU for at least 30 days prior to their leave request.

Employee Group Eligibility

These new leave benefits apply to all PSU employees including:

  • Academic Professionals
  • Adjunct Faculty
  • Employees on Wage Agreements and Temporary Employees
  • Faculty (Tenured & Non-Tenured)
  • Full and Part-time Staff
  • Graduate Assistants
  • Student Employees

These new leave benefits do not apply to vendors, third party contracted workers (often referred to as independent contractors), volunteers, or persons with courtesy appointments.

PSU will periodically update this information as we work to develop processes to administer our benefit program and as the federal government issues implementing regulations for the FFCRA (currently expected in April).

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) FAQs

 

If you have any additional questions that you would like us to address as part of our FAQs, please send them to leaves@pdx.edu with the subject ‘Emergency Leave  FAQs’ as the subject line.

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act FAQS 

What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA was passed by Congress on March 18, 2020,  in response to the 2020 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The FFCRA applies to Portland State University (PSU) and, in part, creates new sick leave and family leave benefits to employees who must be absent from work due to COVID-19. The significant parts of this legislation regarding paid leave are known as the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and Extended Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA).

 

How does the FFCRA impact my pay and benefits at PSU?

The use of these new leave benefits will not diminish the existing rights or benefits that an employee is entitled to under any other federal or state law, collective bargaining agreement, or current PSU Policy.

Regarding the emergency paid sick leave benefit (EPSL), this benefit is in addition to an employee’s existing leave.  An employee is not required to exhaust their existing leave before taking EPSL.

With respect to the EFMLA leave benefit, PSU will apply all existing leave policies when processing an EFMLA leave request, including applying paid sick leave benefits to run concurrently with the unpaid portion of EFMLA. However, the employee now has a new paid leave as part of their EFMLA leave period, including two weeks (up to 80 hours) of EPSL and pay at two-thirds of their regular rate (subject to some caps) for up to 10 weeks. Employees should also note that the FFCRA does not extend the 12 week time period allotted by the FMLA.

 

What employees are eligible for benefits under FFCRA?

Emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) provided under the FFCRA applies to all employees, including: Academic Professionals

  • Adjunct Faculty
  • Employees on Wage Agreements and Temporary Employees
  • Faculty (Tenured & Non-Tenured)
  • Full and Part-time Faculty and Staff
  • Graduate Assistants
  • Student Employees

Expanded FMLA or EFMLA provided under FFCRA applies to employees (see above) who have been employed with PSU for at least 30 calendar days immediately prior to the day that the EFMLA leave would begin.

These new leave benefits do not apply to vendors, third party contracted workers (often referred to as independent contractors), volunteers, or persons with courtesy appointments.

If you are a PSU employee that was laid off after March 1, 2020, and later re-employed, you may also be eligible for EPSL and EFMLA benefits upon re-hire. Please contact the PSU leaves team at leaves@pdx.edu if you think this applies to you to learn more.

 

What events qualify as reasons for an employee to take leave under FFCRA?

In general, employees can use the additional leave benefits under FFCRA when they need to be absent from work for reasons related to COVID-19.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave or EPSL: Under the FFCRA, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave benefit was created to provide up to two weeks of paid leave for any employee who could not work for reasons related to COVID-19 including: governmental quarantine or isolation orders, the advice of a healthcare provider to self-quarantine, or if they are experiencing symptoms of the disease. An employee can also use EPSL where they need to care for a person (it does not have to be a family member) who is subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order or who is advised to self-quarantine by their health care provider for reasons related to COVID-19.

The FFCRA provides that employees taking EPSL for these COVID-19 related reasons are paid either at their regular rate of pay or at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay, and the total payment is subject to certain caps. However,consistent with Interim President Percy’s commitment to the campus when the University limited its on-campus operations on March 18, PSU will not limit the use of the additional EPSL leave benefit for reasons related to COVID-19. Instead, PSU will permit all employees to use this additional emergency sick leave for any circumstance outlined in PSU’s sick leave policy and the pay will be at the employee’s regular rate of pay up to 80 hours (or the number of hours that the employee works on average over a two week period).

Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act leave or EFMLA: An employee can use the if they cannot work because they must care for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or the child care provider is unavailable) due to reasons related to COVID-19.

 

What is the duration of leave granted under FFCRA?

Emergency Paid Sick Leave or EPSL: A full-time employee is eligible for two weeks of EPSL (up to 80 hours). A part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that they work on average over a two-week period (basically two weeks of leave (leave is essentially prorated to their FTE).

Expanded Family and Medical Leave or EFMLA: A qualifying employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave based upon a 40 hours work week. Qualifying part-time employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave based upon the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work for part-time employees.

 

DAY 1-10

DAY 11-60

COVID-19 RELATED REASONS

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Paid at 100% regular rate of pay*

Not Applicable

Anything currently covered by PSU Sick Leave Policy

Expanded FMLA**

(12 weeks)

Unpaid***

Paid at ⅔ regular rate of pay***

Unable to work due to need to care for a child because of a COVID-19 related school/daycare closure

FMLA/OFLA**

(12 weeks)

Unpaid***

Unpaid***

Serious Health Condition

Family Member’s Serious Health Condition****

*Total amount will be pro-rated by FTE or average hours worked for part time employees

**Twelve week maximum FMLA entitlement is not extended by the FFCRA

***Employees can use their own leave balances and/or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to supplement unpaid leave. Note: As with all FMLA/OFLA, use of sick leave balances (including EPSL) are required prior to the use of non-sick leave balances.

****FMLA/OFLA covers additional scenarios not listed here. Please see our FMLA/OFLA resources web page for more information.

 

How long do I have to use the leave granted under FFCRA?

Emergency paid sick leave (as expanded by PSU) and the Expanded FMLA benefits created under the FFCRA expire on December 31, 2020. The emergency sick leave created by the EPSLA, is not eligible to be paid out or reimbursed upon separation from employment.

 

How is the  for leave granted under FFCRA determined?

Emergency Paid Sick Leave or EPSL: Because PSU has expanded the pay benefit under the EPSL, an employee is paid their regular rate of pay regardless of the reason for the leave. In general, the employee will be provided the number of hours the employee works on average over a two-week period. For full-time employees, this is 80 hours of paid EPSL. For part-time employees or for employees who work a varying schedule, the hours of paid EPSL will be calculated using the average number of hours worked over a two week period.

Expanded Family and Medical Leave or EFMLA: Employees taking Expanded Family and Medical Leave are entitled to pay at two-thirds of their regular rate up to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate (over a 10-week period). In general, the employee will be provided the number of hours the employee works on average over a two-week period. For full-time employees, this is 80 hours of paid EPSL. For part-time employees or for employees who work a varying schedule, the hours of paid EPSL will be calculated using the average number of hours worked over a two week period. Consistent with existing PSU policy, sick leave and other paid leaves will run concurrently with any unpaid portion of the EFMLA.

 

How is the PSU implementation different from the base requirements of the FFCRA?

PSU’s implementation expands on FFCRA requirements in several important ways.  In particular, PSU will allow employees to:

  • use Emergency Paid Sick Leave for any reason covered by PSU’s Sick Leave Policy and not just for COVID-19 related reasons; and,
  • be compensated at 100% of their regular rate of pay regardless of the reason for taking EPSL leave.

 

When can I start using the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA?

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA are both effective as of April 1, 2020. With respect to the Expanded FMLA leave benefit, the employee must also have been employed with PSU in the 30 days immediately before the leave begins.

If you are a PSU employee that was laid off after March 1, 2020, and later re-employed, you may also be eligible for EPSL and EFMLA benefits upon re-hire. Please contact the PSU leaves team at leaves@pdx.edu if you think this applies to you to learn more.

 

How do I request and use Emergency Paid Sick Leave and/or Expanded FMLA?

Emergency Paid Sick Leave or EPSL: An employee should request use of emergency paid sick leave under the FFCRA in the same way that they request to use other accrued leave balances. The employee should report their use of EPSL in Banweb as part of their normal timesheet/leave reporting process. There will be a new leave code (L19) and employees will have access to their full allotment of EPSL to use as needed for leave taken after April 1, 2020.

Expanded FMLA or EFLMA: Expanded FMLA can be requested with the newly-created Onbase form “Families First Corona 19 Response - Emergency Leave Request Form.” HR will review all requests for eligibility prior to approval. Once on an approved EFMLA leave, employees will need to report all EFMLA hours taken in the previous month using the FMLA/OFLA Tracking Form.

 

Can I use my own leave balances concurrently with the 2/3 paid portion of Expanded FMLA?

An employee’s leave balance under EFMLA will be applied in the same order and under the same conditions that apply to other FMLA requests at PSU.

 

When taking Expanded FMLA or EFMLA, will I have to use my leave balances in any particular order?

When using EFMLA, an employee’s leave balance will be applied in the same order and under the same conditions that apply to other FMLA requests at PSU. However, an employee may elect (but is not required) to use the emergency sick leave under the FFCRA to have the first 10 days of leave under EFMLA to be paid leave.

 

Can these leaves be used intermittently and if so in what increments?

Yes. The emergency paid sick leave created under the FFCRA can be used intermittently and can be applied in the same increments as the employee’s accrued sick leave. The Expanded FMLA can be used intermittently with Departmental approval.

 

Do I have to use my own leave balances before using the Emergency Paid Sick Leave under the FFCRA?

No. The emergency paid sick leave provided under the FFCRA can be used beginning April 1, 2020 regardless of any other available balances.

 

Can I use leaves under the FFCRA or as expanded by PSU even if my department has declared me an essential worker in the case of a closure?

Yes. The emergency paid sick leave benefit provided under the FFCRA for COVID-19 related absences, and as expanded by PSU, and EFMLA can be used by all employees for any reason provided under the FFCRA or PSU’s sick leave policy. If an employee needs to be absent from work because of COVID-19 related reasons, however, the employee will need to identify that reason when claiming the leave on PSU leave forms or timesheets in Banweb.

 

Do I have to use this if my child's school/daycare is closed?

No. Even if your child’s school or daycare is closed, if an employee has the ability to work, including working remotely, the employee is not obligated to take either emergency paid sick leave or Expanded FMLA leave under the FFCRA. These are additional benefits provided to employees under the FFCRA and are not mandated leave requirements.

 

How do the leaves described in the March 20 agreement with SEIU Local 503 and by Interim President Percy on March 17 interact with the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) provided under the FFCRA?

The leave benefits provided in the agreement with SEIU Local 503 and by Interim President Percy do not add to the length of the EPSL under the FFCRA. Beginning April 1, 2020, each employee will be allocated the amount or hours of leave as outlined in the FFCRA. However, these agreements specific to PSU have expanded the benefit in two ways: the use of the leave is not limited to the reasons stated in the FFCRA and the pay for EPSL leave is always at the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Separately, employees will be held harmless for leave prior to April 1 taken in accordance with the eligibility criteria of either of these program as follows:

  • Every employee will have access to their full portion of EPSL hours regardless of sick leave use prior to April 1.
  • Per the SEIU LOA, SEIU members will have any sick leave hours used between March 20 and March 31 restored to their leave balances.
  • All employees who exhausted sick leave and had to take LWOP between March 18 and March 30 will be paid for those hours consistent with Interim President Percy’s March 17, 2020 communication.

 

Where can I get additional information about the FFCRA?

Text of the FFCRA - https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6201/

Department of Labor