March 18, 2020
This is an update about the recent legislation passed by the US House of Representatives, H.R. 6201, “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” which would have several different impacts on employers. Please note that this is just the House legislation and has not yet been acted on by the Senate, which may change these provisions.
One of the aspects of the law is that it temporarily amends the federal FMLA to allow employees to take leave for coronavirus-related reasons; a second piece is creation of a temporary paid leave requirement that applies to leave for coronavirus-related reasons. As related to the federal (remember that this does not impact the State FMLA) FMLA, the legislation creates a new form of qualifying leave “related to a public health emergency.” The provisions would take effect 15 days after enactment, and would remain in effect through December 31, 2020. The proposed changes would 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 is passed, after which we will provide a thorough discussion.
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 to: self-isolate because of a diagnosis of coronavirus; get a diagnosis or care because of symptoms of coronavirus; comply with a recommendation or order by a public official or health care provider that the employee would jeopardize the health of others because of exposure to, or symptoms of, coronavirus; to care for or assist a family member who is self-isolating because of a diagnosis of coronavirus, or has symptoms of coronavirus “and needs to obtain medical diagnosis or care,” or who is subject to an order from a public official or health care provider that the family member would jeopardize the health of others in the community because of exposure to, or symptoms of, coronavirus; and to care for a child if the child’s school or child care facility is closed, or if the care provider is unavailable, because of coronavirus. The proposed paid leave entitlement is 80 hours for full-time employees, pro-rated 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 would have to be provided in addition to the already- provided leave. Again, this legislation has many other provisions but still has to be acted upon by the Senate. As with the proposed FMLA leave, we will provide an update once any final bill is passed.
This information is accurate as of March 18, 2020, and is subject to change based on any new legislation.