On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). The law is effective 15 days after being signed by the president and expires on December 31, 2020.
This bill will provide people who are affected by COVID-19:
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act amends the current Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing leave for eligible employees who can’t work (or telework) because their minor child’s school or childcare service is closed due to a COVID-19 emergency declared by a federal, state or local authority.
Eligible employees include employees who work for an employer with fewer than 500 employees and who have been on the payroll for at least 30 calendar days.
The first 10 days of this leave may be unpaid; however, employees may elect to substitute available paid time off, such as vacation, personal or sick leave, during this time.
After the initial 10 days, employers must pay eligible employees at least two-thirds of the employees’ regular rate of pay based on the number of hours the employees would otherwise have been scheduled to work. These paid-family-leave benefits are capped at $200 a day.
Paid-sick-leave benefits will be immediately available when the law takes effect and capped at $511 a day for a worker’s own care and $200 a day when the employee is caring for someone else. This benefit will also expire at the end of 2020.
Employers with fewer than 500 employees and public agencies with at least one employee. Exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the above requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business going forward.
Covered employers must provide full-time employees with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave if the employees are unable to work (or telework) due to COVID-19. Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave based on the number of hours the employees work, on average, over a two-week period.
Qualifying reasons for this paid sick leave include:
1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.
2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.
3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to either number 1 or 2 above.
5. The employee is caring for his or her son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.
6. 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.
Paid sick leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater, for leave taken for reasons 1-3 above. An Employee taking leave for reasons 4-6 may be compensated at two-thirds of his or her regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater.
An employer may not require an employee to use other types of paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the paid sick time available under this law.
The-paid-sick leave provisions take effect not later than 15 days after enactment and expire on December 31, 2020.
A tax credit is created for each calendar quarter for an amount equal to 100 percent of the qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid by an employer during the calendar quarter, including some costs associated with providing and maintaining a group health plan during such paid leaves.
Q: Are tax credits available to help offset the cost of providing the paid sick leave?
A: Each quarter, private sector employers subject to the requirement are entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid by the employer. Qualified sick leave wages are capped at $511 per day ($200 per day if the leave is for caring for a family member) and 10 days. The tax credit is applied against employer Social Security taxes, but employers are reimbursed if their costs for qualified sick leave exceed the taxes they would owe. The Treasury Secretary is provided with regulatory authority intended to help with cash flow issues, for example by waiving penalties on failing to deposit payroll taxes in anticipation of the credit.
A group health plan must provide coverage without any cost-sharing requirements, such as deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance, or prior authorization or other medical management requirements, for:
Update January 2020:
On January 31, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new Form I-9. The form is dated 10/21/2019 and should be used immediately. USCIS is allowing employers a three-month grace period, however, during which the old form (dated 07/17/2017) may be used. By May 1, 2020, only the new form should be used. The new form can be found on the USCIS.gov website; https://www.uscis.gov/i-9 USCIS made the following changes to the form and its instructions: Form Changes Revised the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the Issuing Authority field (when selecting a foreign passport) in Section 2 to add Eswatini and Macedonia, North per those countries’ recent name changes. This change is only visible when completing the fillable Form I-9 on a computer.
· Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer
· Updated USCIS website addresses
· Provided clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9
· Updated the process for requesting paper Forms I-9
· Updated the DHS Privacy Notice
For further information contact:
SHRM-LI Legislative Chair
Samantha Halfen, PHR, SHRM-CP