On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law a coronavirus relief package, H.R. 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act. A summary of the legislation is below. HCC is monitoring this evolving situation and taking efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workforce. These provisions take effect on April 1, 2020, and only affect employers with fewer than 500 employees. We wanted to give you a quick summary of the key provisions and changes you need to be aware of, along with general COVID-19 resource links.
Employees can now take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave (2 weeks unpaid followed by 10 weeks of paid leave up to monetary caps) if they are unable to work (including by telecommuting) due to a need to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Employers must offer employees 80 hours of paid sick leave (up to monetary caps) to quarantine, to seek a diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or to care for a child.
Paid Leave Tax Credits
To help bear the cost of the new paid-leave requirements, employers can offset the amounts paid from employment taxes and otherwise seek refunds additional payments.
Employers will be required to post notice of the new provisions in a conspicuous place on their premises. Employers may also satisfy the notice requirement by emailing or direct-mailing the notice to employees, or posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website. A sample notice poster can be found here.
Note: the model notice appears to have an error, as it leaves off the pay requirement with respect to paid sick leave due to school/childcare closings. It also claims the additional 10 weeks of pay under the expanded FMLA is capped at $12,000 instead of $10,000. We believe this is an oversight and will be fixed. We will post the updated notice when released by the DOL.
Employers that are health providers or emergency responders may exempt themselves from these requirements. Furthermore, employers with fewer than 50 employees may seek an exemption with the Department of Labor if compliance will threaten the business as an ongoing concern.
Prohibitions and Penalties
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who seek to take this expanded leave. Employers found to be in violation of the requirements may be subject to penalties and enforcement under the Fair Labor Standards Act or the Family For your convenience, here are links to important information and resources from the Department of Labor:
- General information from the DOL about the leave requirements
- FAQs about the leave requirements
- FAQs about the notice requirements