The IRS has announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act). The credits are designed to give businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide coronavirus-related paid leave, either for an employee’s own health needs, or to care for family members. Under the Act, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for coronavirus-related reasons and expanded paid child care leave when schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable. To take immediate advantage of the paid leave credits, employers can retain and access funds that they would otherwise pay to the IRS in payroll taxes. If those amounts are not sufficient to cover the cost of paid leave, employers can seek an expedited advance from the IRS by submitting a streamlined claim form that will be released in the near future. News Release IR 2020-57.
Corona-virus related reasons is a very broad category and does not require the employee to technically be sick. A shelter in place restriction issued by a government entity qualifies.