You asked and we answered! After receiving several inquiries about the new coronavirus paid leave laws, also known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as a service to our community, we wanted to provide a resource for all your questions. Be sure to check back often because we will update this as more questions come in.
1. When does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act go into effect?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s paid leave provisions become effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. (The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.)
The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has issued a Field Assistance Bulletin stating that it will not bring enforcement actions against public or private employers for conduct that occurs from March 18, 2020 through April 17, 2020 as long as the employer has made “reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with the Act.” Please click on the following link if you would like information about the Department of Labor’s Field Assistance Bulletin. https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/legacy/files/fab2020-1.pdf
2. I am self-employed. Can I get sick leave payments under the new law?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes help for people who are self-employed. It provides self-employed individuals with paid sick leave and FMLA leave benefits in amounts similar to what an employee can get. However, unlike an employee, you will not get an immediate payment. Instead, it gives you a tax credit on your 2020 taxes. That means you will not feel the impact of the benefit until 2021. Since this is a tax credit, people who are self-employed should seek the help of an accountant or tax professional for further advice.
3. I am an independent contractor. What about me?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act does not include the term “independent contractor,” but that does not mean you have been left out completely. If you qualify as “self-employed” under the federal Tax Code, you could be entitled to a tax credit on your 2020 federal tax return to reimburse you for qualified sick or FMLA leave due to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, since it is a tax credit, you are not going to get an immediate payment. Seek the help of an accountant or tax professional to see if you qualify.
Check out new guidance from the Department of Labor issued March 26, 2020 that may have additional questions and answers you are searching for. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
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