COVID-19

U.S. Federal Aid Questions

CARES Act:


What is the U.S. CARES Act? 

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a $2 trillion emergency spending bill passed by the U.S. Congress that provides financial relief to individuals, corporations, state and local governments, and public institutions in response to the economic fallout from COVID-19. Transit agencies are eligible to receive $25 billion in CARES Act funds.


Which transit systems are eligible for CARES Act funds?

  • Public agencies and their contractors are eligible to receive CARES Act money. In order to obtain CARES Act funds, transit agencies must submit an application through the Federal Transit Administration; they do not automatically receive their allocated funding. 


How do I see how much my employer has been allocated in CARES Act funding?

  • If you are in an urbanized area, check this table. This table provides the total amount of funding to be divided between transit agencies within the urbanized area. For specific information on your employer, please contact coronavirusalert@atu.org.
  • If you are in a rural area, the funding goes to your state Department of Transportation (DOT), which disperses the funds. A table listing the amounts each state can receive is available here. Please contact coronavirusalert@atu.org to see if more specific information is available for your employer.


I don’t see my region listed on the DOT apportionment table. Does this mean that my employer is ineligible for any aid?

  • Your region likely falls within either a named urbanized area, or it is a rural area and your state DOT is responsible for dispersing CARES Act funding (see above). 


How do I know whether my employer has applied for CARES Act funding?

  • ATU is keeping track of CARES grant applications here.
  • Your Business Agent will receive by email the CARES grant application when your local represents employees in the geographic service area of the grantee.


What can transit systems spend this money on?

  • While agencies have broad discretion over the use of CARES Act funds, providing operating assistance is a primary goal of the CARES Act. Operating assistance includes labor costs such as normal payroll, leave payments, hazard pay, cleaning supplies, and masks, gloves and other PPE. This funding can assist agencies which have lost revenue as a result of waiving fares. Learn more here.


Do agencies have to pay back or match the CARES Act funding? 

  • No. CARES Act funds are grants. They are not loans that need to be paid back, nor do they require local matching. 

 

U.S. Families First Coronavirus Response Act:


What is the FFCRA?

  • The FFCRA is a federal law that provides additional sick leave for COVID-19 related issues, as well as paid leave for childcare where schools are closed, or where the normal childcare provider is unavailable. Learn more here.


Is my workplace covered by FFCRA?

  • All public employers regardless of size are covered. Private companies and contractors are only covered if they have fewer than 500 employees.  Many private companies with fewer than 50 employees are also exempt. Learn more here.


How much sick leave does the FFCRA provide? 

  • If you are following a quarantine order imposed by a health care provider or state/local government, OR if you have COVID-19 symptoms, you are entitled to two weeks (80 hours for full timers) paid leave, at 100% wage replacement (capped at $511/day). 
  • If you are caring for someone who is in quarantine, you are entitled to two weeks’ paid leave at ⅔ wage replacement (capped at $200 per day).
    Links to come.


Does the FFCRA provide paid leave to take care of children, even if no one is sick?

  • Yes. If you are caring for a child whose school is closed, or whose normal childcare provider is unavailable because of the pandemic, you are entitled to two weeks at ⅔ pay under the FFCRA. After those two weeks, you can use the expanded FMLA emergency leave to take an additional 10 weeks of paid leave at ⅔ pay. In sum, most workers are entitled to 12 weeks of leave at ⅔ pay under these provisions (however, if you used unpaid FMLA leave in the past year, you may not be able to take the full 12 weeks of paid childcare leave). Learn more here.


What counts as a “normal childcare provider”?

  • Anyone who cares for your child, including both paid sitters or daycare centers, as well as unpaid care providers such as family members or neighbors. LINK to DOL


My child’s school is now using online classes. Does this count as closed?

  • Yes. If the physical location where the child usually goes for school is closed, the FFCRA considers it closed in the sense that you are eligible to apply for childcare leave. Learn more here.


I am a part time employee. Does the FFCRA apply to me?

  • Part time employees are entitled to 100% paid leave for the number of hours that they average over a two week period.


I have worked at my company for 30 days or fewer. Does the FFCRA apply to me?

  • Employees who have worked fewer than 30 days are entitled to two weeks’ paid sick leave (whether it is 100% paid or ⅔ pay depends on the reason for leave: see above), but they are ineligible for the additional 10 weeks paid leave for childcare. Learn more here.


Can my employer force me to use my earned benefits (vacation time, regular sick days) before using the new FFCRA leave?

  • No. The FFCRA was specifically created so that workers would not have to use their normal earned benefits for COVID-related reasons. 


If my employer is open, but puts me on furlough, can I receive FFCRA paid sick leave or expanded FMLA?

  • No. You may be entitled for Unemployment Insurance. LINK TO DOL


If my employer cuts my schedule, can I use FFCRA leave for those hours that I am no longer scheduled to work?

  • No. You can only use FFCRA sick leave or expanded family leave on hours that you are scheduled to work. LINK TO DOL


What do I do if my employer is covered by FFCRA, but is not complying with its provisions?

  • If you are a member, make sure to contact your Business Agent (BA). If you are a BA, you can contact the ATU Coronavirus Alert hotline for assistance.  You can also contact the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which is responsible for enforcement.