Archives for March 2020

Emergency Coronaviurs Bill – What Employers Need to Know

On March 14, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). The bill now heads to the Senate where it is expected to pass sometime early next week.  The bill contains several provisions that will directly impact employers, including paid family medical leave and paid sick leave.

A summary of the leave provisions in their current form is set forth below.  More details can be found here:

Paid Family Medical Leave

  • Applies to employers with less than 500 employees.  Employers with less than 50 employees can apply for a hardship exemption with the Secretary of Labor.
  • Provides 12 weeks of job-protected Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for employees with at least 30-days seniority for COVID-19 related reasons.
  • The first 14 days of the leave may be unpaid.  Employees may use accrued personal or sick leave during the first 14 days, but employers may not require employees to do so.
  • After the first 14 days, employers must compensate employees in an amount that is not less than two-thirds of the employee’s average monthly earnings, up to a cap of $4,000.
  • Among other uses, employees may use the leave to respond to quarantine requirements or recommendations, to care for family members who are responding to quarantine requirements or recommendations, and to care for a child whose school has been closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The benefit will go into effect within 15 days after enactment and expire one year after the bill’s enactment.

Paid Sick Leave

  • Applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Provides 2 weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay for specific circumstances related to COVID-19 (e.g., illness, self-isolating, doctors’ visits).
  • Leave is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate if taken to care for a family member for a COVID-19 related reason, including to care for a child due to school/daycare closures.
  • Small employers (those with 50 employees or less) will be reimbursed for providing this benefit.
  • The provisions will go into effect immediately and expire on December 31, 2020.

The bill includes tax credit relief for employers equal to the full costs of the payments made by the employer to comply with the law.

Until the bill is passed by the Senate and signed by the President, the specific requirements are subject to change.   Therefore, we encourage your organization to wait until the bill is passed to issue communications to your staff about these benefits.  We will, of course, keep you updated as events unfold and provide compliance guidance once the bill is passed.