Legal Media Analysts

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Coronavirus Family/Sick Leave Bill Signed Into Law

On March 18, 2020, President Trump Signed The Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The new law contains several modifications from the original bill passed by the House. Employers must immediately draft policies and train human resources employees to implement the new law. In addition, Employers must post a Notice in the workplace as detailed below.

Here is a summary of key provisions of the new law that apply to employers/employees:

1) Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

Effective Dates: April 2, 2020 – December 31, 2020.

Qualified Employers/Employees: Applies to employers with less than 500 employees for all employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days.

Reason for Leave: The qualifying reason for leave is limited to an employee who is "unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable due to a "public health emergency."

Amount of Pay (tax credits are available to employers): The first 10 days of leave are unpaid (employee may substitute accrued vacation, personal or sick leave). For the following 10 additional weeks, the employer must compensate the employee at a rate of no less than two-third's of the employee's regular rate of pay. However, such pay is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 total.

Job ProtectionPosition is protected until return from leave unless employer, who employs 25 or fewer employees, eliminates position due to a downturn in economic conditions as a result of the Coronavirus. However, employers would still have to make "reasonable efforts" to restore employee to the same or equivalent position.

Exemptions: The Act provides authority to the Department of Labor to exclude health care providers, emergency responders and employers with less than 50 employees where the "viability of the business as a going concern" would be jeopardized.

2) Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

·         Effective Dates: April 2, 2020 – December 31, 2020

·         Qualified Employer/Employee: Covers all employers with less than 500 employees for all employees regardless of length of employment.

·         Reasons for Leave: Employee may take leave under this Act, if unable to work (or telework) for any of the following reasons:
  • The employee is subject to federal, state or local quarantine as a result of the Coronavirus;
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provide to self-quarantine as a result of the Coronavirus;
  •  The employee is experiencing symptoms of the Coronavirus and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  •  The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order described in Section 1, or advised as described in Section 2;
  • To care for a child whose school is closed or his/her regular child care provider is unavailable;
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor. 
Amount of Pay (tax credits are available to employers)Employers must pay all employees who qualify under reasons 1-3 above at the employee's regular rate of pay, capped at $511 per day and $5,110 total. However, if employee's leave is a result of reasons 4-6 above, employer must only compensate employee at 2/3 of his/her regular rate of pay, capped at $200 per day and $2,000 total.

Exemptions: Health care providers and emergency responders.

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