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The Coronavirus Bill and Employee Leave

As you are no doubt aware, last week Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a multi-trillion-dollar relief package aimed to ease the financial burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Act has far-reaching implications for employers. Here are the highlights:

Most importantly, the Act requires that companies with fewer than 500 employees provide 80 hours of paid sick leave (this applies to government entities as well). The criteria for employees to qualify for this paid leave are extremely broad: leave must be made available to workers who are symptomatic or under order or advice to self-isolate, or who are caring for anyone under such order or advice.

Leave must also be made available to anyone with a child whose school or child care facility has closed due to coronavirus, which means that just about everyone with school-aged children will qualify.

There is the possibility that businesses with fewer than 50 employees, as well as health care providers and emergency responders, will be exempted from this requirement by future regulation. But for the time being, that exemption is not a reality.

The Act further provides Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights for some employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees. This takes the form of partially paid leave after 10 days when an employee is unable to work or telework due to school or child care closures.

There is also relief for employers within the Act: Health plans will be required to cover COVID-19 testing at no charge. A refundable tax credit for employers providing paid leave benefits per the Act’s requirements is included. And in the shorter term, it’s expected that the U.S. Treasury will advance funds to some small business to help cover the costs of paid sick leave. Further details are expected in the near future.

Questions about paid sick leave or other benefits? Contact Consolidated Insurance.