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FAQ’s for Employees About Their Rights and Benefits Under the FFCRA and CARES Act

Beth Schirmer

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What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?
Who is eligible to receive relief under the FFCRA?
What kind of relief is available under the FFCRA?
What is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and How Does it Affect My Unemployment Benefits?
Where can I apply for Ohio Unemployment Insurance Benefits?
What about CARES Act and Economic Impact Payments?
How will the IRS know where to send my payment?
The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?
I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?
How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?
I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?
I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?
Where can I get more information on the economic impact payments?

 

What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act contains two key provisions that may impact workers: first, the Act expands Family and Medical Leave Rights (called the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act).  Second, the Act gives employees a right to paid sick leave in certain circumstances (called the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act).

These laws became effective on April 2, 2020 and expire at the end of the year. These laws only apply to smaller employers, with fewer than 500 employees. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt in some cases).
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Who is eligible to receive relief under the FFCRA?

In general, employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons.

Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave if the employee is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons.
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What kind of relief is available under the FFCRA?

Generally, employers covered under the FFCRA must provide employees:

Up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or Federal minimum wage, paid at:

100% (up to $511 daily and $5,110 total) if the employee:
is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or
is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.

2/3 (up to $200 daily and $2,000 total) if the employee:
is caring for an individual subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine isolation order related to COVID-19;
is caring for an individual who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or
is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 (up to $200 daily and $12,000 total) if the employee:
Is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons

A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

For more information on the FFCRA and how it affects workers see our blog posts here and here.
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What is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and How Does it Affect My Unemployment Benefits?

The CARES Act is $2 trillion stimulus bill that was signed into law on March 27, 2020. Its aim is providing relief for individuals and businesses that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Under CARES, eligible workers will get an extra $600/week on top of the amount paid by the State of Ohio. Also, for the first time, gig workers (like Uber drivers and Doordash deliverers), freelancers, independent contractors, part-time workers, and self-employed people will be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.

Under CARES, you can collect unemployment benefits if you are out of work because you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are caring for a family member who has COVID-19. You are also eligible if you are unable to work because your child’s school or daycare has closed, or because you are caring for an elderly relative whose care facility has closed. People who were about to start a new job and now cannot work due to the pandemic are also covered.

Note, however, that neither Ohio law nor the new federal law cover employees who resign from their employment voluntarily because they are afraid of contracting the virus.
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Where can I apply for Ohio Unemployment Insurance Benefits?

You can apply online at Ohio’s Job and Family Services webpage.

For more information on the expanded access to unemployment benefits in Ohio under the CARES Act see our blog post here.
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What about CARES Act and Economic Impact Payments?

The CARES Act also provides economic impact payments to eligible individuals.

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.
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How will the IRS know where to send my payment?

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.
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The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?

In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.
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I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?

Yes. People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.
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How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?

IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.
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I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?

Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.
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I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?

For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.
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Where can I get more information on the economic impact payments?

The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.
The IRS has a reduced staff in many of its offices but remains committed to helping eligible individuals receive their payments expeditiously. Check for updated information on IRS.gov/coronavirus rather than calling IRS assistors who are helping process 2019 returns.
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For more information Kelly Mulloy Myers speaks on common labor and employment questions related to COVID-19 in CBA Public Info Session 2: Labor & Employment.