March 18, 2020
An update about the recent legislation passed by the US House of Representatives, H.R. 6201, “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” It could have several impacts on employers. Please note that this is just the House legislation. It has not yet been acted on by the Senate. This may change these provisions. Remember, that this does not impact the State FMLA.
One of the aspects of the law temporarily amends the federal FMLA to allow employees to take leave for coronavirus-related reasons. A second piece creates a temporary paid leave requirement that applies to leave for coronavirus-related reasons. As related to the federal FMLA, the legislation creates a new form of qualifying leave related to a public health emergency.
The provisions take effect 15 days after enactment. They remain in effect through December 31, 2020. The proposed changes apply only to public health emergency leave. Because the provisions could change significantly once acted on by the Senate, we will hold off on a detailed explanation of the current provisions until the final bill passes. After which, we plan to provide a thorough discussion.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
The second portion of the legislation is the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Generally, this Act would require an employer to provide leave for an employee for several reasons related to the coronavirus.
- Self-isolation because of a diagnosis of coronavirus
- Obtaining a diagnosis or care because of symptoms of coronavirus
- Complying with a recommendation or order by a public official or healthcare provider
- If the employee could jeopardize the health of others because of exposure to, or symptoms of, coronavirus
- Caring for a family member self-isolating because of a diagnosis of coronavirus
- If they have symptoms of coronavirus and need to obtain medical diagnosis or care
- Being subject to an order from a public official or healthcare provider
- A family member could jeopardize the health of others in the community because of exposure to, or symptoms of, coronavirus
- Caring for a child if their school closed, or if the care provider becomes unavailable, because of coronavirus
The proposed paid leave is 80 hours for full-time employees and prorated for part-time employees. One significant feature of the Act is that even if an employer already provides paid leave, the leave created by the Act needs to be provided in addition to the already-provided leave.
Again, this legislation has many other provisions. It still has to be acted upon by the Senate. As with the proposed FMLA leave, we provide an update once any final bill passes.
This information is accurate as of March 18, 2020. It is subject to change based on any new legislation.