On 3/14, the House passed a bill that provides economic protections to employees impacted by Covid-19. The Senate is expected to vote and pass the legislation by Wednesday (with potential revisions) and the President is expected to sign it by Thursday. Right now, and subject to revision, the key provisions apply to employers with fewer than 500 employees.
Generally, the law expands the FMLA to include Covid-19 related reasons as a basis for leave and provides pay to employees who take leave for Covid-19 related reasons. Employees become eligible after 30 days of employment and, after the first two weeks of leave (which are unpaid), receive pay at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from payment where they can show that payment would jeopardize the survival of the business as a going concern.
The new law also requires up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, are under quarantine, need to seek treatment or care for Covid-19, are engaged in caregiving for an individual who has a current diagnosis of Covid-19, or are engaged in caregiving for a child where the child’s school or daycare is closed because of Covid-19. This sick leave is in addition to sick leave already provided by an employer and employers cannot change existing sick leave policies to avoid the “extra” benefits provided by the new law. Pay for sick time is at the employee’s regular rate except where sick time is to care for a child whose school/daycare provider has closed, in which case pay is at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. The DOL is tasked with creating a notice for employers to provide to employees.
Right now, employers are to be compensated via tax credits. However, the law could change significantly by the time the Senate’s review/debate is completed.
More soon. Please stay safe.