Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Published March 19, 2020
The U.S. House and Senate passed, and President Trump signed into law this week H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The new law responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.
Specifically, the law establishes a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak as well as requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. The law also gives the Dept. of Labor the ability to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.

Paid Job-Protected Leave Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Government employees and employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees who have been employed for at least 30 days by that employer have a right to job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks. The first ten days may consist of unpaid leave. After two weeks of unpaid leave, employers must continue FMLA leave at a rate of no less than two-thirds of the employees usual rate of pay.

Paid Sick Leave

Employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide to each employee employed by the employer paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because:
  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject quarantine, has been advised to self-isolated or is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.
  6. 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.
The duration of paid sick time for full-time employees is 80 hours; for part-time employees, it is a number of hours equal to the number of hours that such employee works, on average, over a 2-week period. The paid sick time shall be available for immediate use by the employee regardless of how long the employee has been employed by an employer.
Another coronavirus bill currently is being negotiated in Congress and is expected to be an economic stimulus package.

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