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Families First Coronavirus Relief Bill – Employer Considerations

As you may be aware, yesterday the President signed a bill into law called the “Families First Coronavirus Relief Bill”. This bill aims to provide sick pay and expanded family leave pay for employees affected by COVID-19 at employers with LESS THAN 500 employees. There is no current guidance for employer groups with more than 500 employees. Relief for employers providing this sick pay/paid family leave will be provided in the form of payroll tax credits. The information available today DOES give a fairly detailed overview of the emergency bill. Still, there are some unanswered questions and additional clarifications will be forthcoming. Important to note that this does not become effective until April 2, 2020.

The document linked here provides a detailed summary of the bill; below are some bullet points:

Sick Pay for COVID-19 Related Issues (Tax credit for employers) :

  • Quarantined, Seeking Treatment/testing, or Ill with COVID-19: Up to 2 weeks paid leave at regular pay, regardless of employee length of service, and is in addition to any PTO benefits available. Employer would receive relief in the form of a tax credit up to $511 per day ($5,110 total). The criteria for “quarantined” are not yet defined
  • Absences for care of others (child at home due to school/daycare closure, or caring for ill/quarantined individual): Up to 2 weeks paid leave at 2/3 regular pay, regardless of employee length of service, and is in addition to any PTO benefits available. Employer would receive relief in the form of a tax credit up to $200 per day ($2,000 total). Child age is not clearly defined here, but current indications are that it is for children “under” age 18
  • The US Secretary of Labor “may” issue an exemption for employers under 50 total employees where the bill would jeopardize the business operations, but further clarification is needed
  • Part time employees receive up to the average number of hours worked in a 2 week period

FMLA Expansion

  • Also effective 4-2-20
  • For employees on the job 30 days or more
  • The US Secretary of Labor “may” issue an exemption for employers under 50 total employees where the bill would jeopardize the business operations, but further clarification is needed
  • 1st 10 days unpaid, but covered by the paid “sick” leave above
  • Remaining time (weeks 3-12) paid at 2/3 normal pay
  • Capped at $200 per day ($10,000 total)

Additional Provisions

  • See tax credit section for specifics
  • Expanded access and funding to unemployment insurance
  • Group health plans must provide free testing for SARS-CoV-2 or the virus that causes COVID-19. PLEASE NOTE: Testing will only be done/covered based on a doctor’s recommendation – individuals cannot get “on demand” testing

We will continue to provide updates and clarifications as is becomes available.