Late last week, with support from the White House, the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive bill that would increase government funding to combat the spread of the coronavirus, while also providing greater workplace protections for Americans affected by the virus directly or indirectly. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) will expand the existing Family Medical Leave Act and will introduce the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, collectively expanding mandatory paid leave benefits for many American workers.
What Kind of Leave is available?
The bill promotes multiple funding measures to enhance government’s response to the spread of the coronavirus and the threat of COVID 19. As it pertains to employee leave, the bill effectively creates up to twelve weeks of paid leave for employees who are doing one of the following:
Under the proposed legislation, most private employers with less than 500 employees must extend FMLA leave to any eligible employee who has worked for the employer for at least 30 days. However, businesses with fewer than 50 employees may seek an exemption “when imposition would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.” What the exemption might mean in practice remains to be seen.
What Kind of Pay is available?
The bill combines mandatory pay under the extended FMLA provisions with two weeks of mandatory paid sick time to ensure continued compensation. Generally speaking, employees will be entitled to:
Additional Employer Obligations.
Employers need to be aware of the following rights and restrictions:
Tax Credits for Employers.
Covered employers may seek tax credits for 100% of sick leave pay or expanded FMLA pay subject to certain daily and quarterly caps.
Notice that the proposed legislation affects smaller employers not otherwise subject to the FMLA while exempting the largest employers (500 or more employees) from the benefits and burdens of the legislation. Employees don’t need to vest to be eligible for sick leave pay, and they need have worked only thirty days to be eligible for the expanded FMLA leave.
Keep in mind that the Senate may modify the bill further before approving it. Finally, consider that this is merely a summary of portions of a 110-page piece of legislation. Before you enact changes, study the rules and talk to your legal and tax professionals. If you're concerned or have specific questions, do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or (248) 477-6300.