H.R. 6201 — Enacted this Week
The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (H.R. 6201) was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 18, 2020. The bill is intended to provide immediate relief to Americans financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Overview of Relief Bill
FMLA Expansion for COVID-19
The Act amends the FMLA to allow an employee who is unable to work (or telework) to take leave due to a need to care for the employee’s son or daughter (under 18 years of age) if the child’s elementary or secondary school or place of care has been closed, or the child-care provider is unavailable, due to a “public-health emergency.” A public-health emergency means an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a federal, state, or local authority.
Unlike the original bill, the closure of the child’s school or child care facility is the only reason allowed under the added FMLA provisions, and the only reason allowed for paid leave under the FMLA.
Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19
The Act also adds a paid sick-leave obligation. Employers with fewer than 500 employees must immediately make available 80 hours of paid sick leave for full-time employees (or the equivalent of the average number of hours over two weeks for part-time employees) for the following reasons (which are slightly different than the original bill):
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-10 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).
- The employee is caring for their son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child-care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
Amount of Pay
Under the FMLA provisions, when leave is needed due to a school or day-care closure, the employer can provide the first 10 days of leave unpaid, then subsequent absences for this reason must be paid at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay. The Act includes a cap of $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate. If the first 10 days are unpaid, an employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or medical/sick leave for the unpaid leave.
Paid sick leave is paid at the employee’s regular rate for a use described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3); and 2/3 of an employee’s regular rate for a use described in paragraph (4), (5), or (6). Paid sick leave is also capped: $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for a use described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3); and $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for a use described in paragraph (4), (5), or (6).
Both the proposed FMLA changes and the proposed sick leave take effect no later than 15 days after enactment and would remain in place until the end of 2020.
For More Information:
Congress is working diligently on a third-phase relief. As we navigate through these challenging times, Walton continues to closely monitor legislative developments associated with COVID-19 relief and maintaining our clients and partners abreast of important updates.
As always, should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.