President Trump signed today the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) to provide affected individuals with paid sick and family leave and create tax credits for affected employers, expand food and nutrition services, allow for emergency state unemployment insurance grants, and increase Medicaid funding to states, among other things.
The leave provisions go into effect April 2, 2020, and end on December 31, 2020.
Highlights of the bill include:
Emergency paid sick leave: Employers with fewer than 500 workers would have to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate (or two-thirds the employee’s regular rate to care for another) due to an isolation or quarantine order or advisory, or experiencing symptoms; or caring for a family member or for a child whose school or place of care is closed due to a public emergency. Capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for those on leave because of their own health issue, $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate to care for others. The Department of Labor has the authority to issue regulations to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
The new Act allows an eligible employee to take paid sick leave because the employee is:
- Subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
- Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis;
- Caring for an individual* subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
- Caring for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency; or
- 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.
*Caring for another who is subject to an isolation order or advised to self-quarantine as described above is no longer limited to just family members.
Emergency family and medical leave: Employers with fewer than 500 workers would have to provide as many as 12 weeks of job-protected leave to employees who have worked for at least 30 days prior to the designated leave to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed. The first 10 days could be unpaid, although a worker could choose to use other accrued leave. Employers would be required to pay employees two-thirds of their wages, not to exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate. The Labor Department is authorized to issue regulations to exclude certain health care providers and exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
Tax credits for paid sick and family and medical leave: Employers would receive a 100% refundable payroll tax credit on the wages required to be paid under such leave and additional health benefit contributions. Also, any additional wages paid due to the leave requirement would not be subject to the employer portion of the payroll tax.
Unemployment insurance: Provide as much as $1 billion for emergency transfers to states in fiscal 2020 to process and pay unemployment benefits. Individuals in states with rising unemployment can qualify for an additional 13 weeks (20 in some states) for unemployment benefits.
Increase in Medicaid funding: Provides states with a 6.2% Medicaid FMAP increase for all medical services for the duration of the public health emergency.
Other provisions: Food and nutrition assistance, funding for free testing.
We are continuing to research this new law to know how you will be affected. We will provide you more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please call us if you have any questions.
This communication is intended to provide general information on legislative COVID-19 relief measures as of the date of this communication and may reference information from reputable sources. Although our firm has made every reasonable effort to ensure that the information provided is accurate, we make no warranties, expressed or implied, on the information provided. As legislative efforts are still ongoing, we expect that there may be additional guidance and clarification from regulators that may modify some of the provisions in this communication. Some of those modifications may be significant. As such, be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed.