What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Means for Businesses and Employees

What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Means for Businesses and Employees

03/19/2020 Tags: Announcements, In the News, COVID-19, CARES Act

The following was prepared immediately after passage of the Families First legislation. It does not reflect any subsequently issued guidance or further legislative activity. Please check with your Casey Peterson professional for the latest information.

Shortly after COVID-19 numbers started to swell nationwide, the government began trying to find ways to lessen the severity of the economic impact.

One of their first measures was the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” The bill passed both houses of Congress, and President Trump signed it Wednesday night. Now that the legislation has been signed into law, its provisions become effective within 15 days, which is looking like April 1.

The $100 billion bill provides some emergency paid leave to those who are infected with the coronavirus or taking care of immediate family members who have the illness. It also offers free coronavirus testing and some additional Medicaid funding, food assistance, and unemployment benefits.

The law also expands part of the Family and Medical Leave Act temporarily. It added a new “qualifying need” for employees who can’t work if their child is home because school is closed, or childcare isn’t available.

What It Means for Businesses

Companies with fewer than 50 employees or more than 500 are exempt from the bill. Healthcare providers — like nursing homes and hospitals — may exclude employees.

If your business already has paid-leave policies, you’ll still need to provide your employees with sick leave under the new emergency program. Also, you can’t require a worker to use any other paid time off before using this emergency sick leave.

Small and mid-sized employers can start taking advantage of two new, refundable payroll tax credits that will immediately reimburse them for every dollar they spend providing coronavirus-related leave for their employees.

Employees Covered by the Bill

According to The National Law Review, there are six COVID-19-related reasons an employee would qualify:

  • The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order.
  • A healthcare provider has advised the employee to self-quarantine.
  • The employee has symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order or the individual has been advised to self-quarantine.
  • The employee is caring for their child if that child’s school or childcare facility is closed or there isn’t childcare available because of virus precautions.
  • “The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by Health and Human Services in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labor.”

The U.S. Department of Labor has recently posted a FAQ page to help answer questions about the new legislation. Whether you’re an employer or employee, it’s important to understand how the new law applies to you. If you have questions on implementation, we recommend you consult with an employment attorney.

This communication is intended to provide general information on legislative COVID-19 relief measures as of the date of this communication and may reference information from reputable sources. Although our firm has made every reasonable effort to ensure that the information provided is accurate, we make no warranties, expressed or implied, on the information provided. As legislative efforts are still ongoing, we expect that there may be additional guidance and clarification from regulators that may modify some of the provisions in this communication. Some of those modifications may be significant. As such, be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed.

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