Late Wednesday afternoon, the Senate, by a wide, bi-partisan margin of 90 – 8, passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill now heads to the White House where President Trump has promised a quick signature, guaranteeing paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave for many American workers.
As to paid family and medical leave, the bill will make key changes to the FMLA though the end of the year:
• Amends the definition of “employee” to anyone who has been employed by an employer for at least 30 days.
• Changes the definition of “employer” from “50 or more employees” to “fewer than 500 employees.”
• Provides leave to care for a minor child of an employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the care provider of such child is unavailable due to coronavirus precautions.
• Defines an “inability to work” during a childcare-related leave to include an inability to telework.
• Leave after the first 10 days of any coronavirus-related family leave is to be paid in an amount that is not less than two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would have worked.
• Possible exemptions for health-care workers and small employers (less than 50 employees).
• Caps the amount of paid FMLA at $200 per day, or $10,000 in the aggregate.
• Requires job restoration following any such leave for any employee of an employer with 25 or more employees.
• Discrimination and retaliation is prohibited.
It also provides 80 hours of paid sick leave for full-time employees (or pro-rata for part-time employees) who are unable to work or telework for the following reasons:
• The employee is quarantined or self-isolating because of coronavirus concerns.
• The employee is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus and seeking a medical diagnosis.
• The employee is caring for an individual who is quarantined or self-isolating because of coronavirus concerns.
• The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed, or the care provider is unavailable due to coronavirus precautions.
Other key provisions of paid sick leave measures include:
• If an employer already offers paid sick leave to its employees, coronavirus paid sick leave must be in addition to the already-existing leave.
• An employer cannot force employees to use other leave first.
• An employer can amend its sick leave policy to avoid offering additional leave.
• A tax credit to defray employer costs.
Like the FMLA amendments, there are possible exemptions for health-care workers and small employers (less than 50 employees), and discrimination and retaliation are prohibited.
This law will take effect 15 days after President Trump signs it, which means the time for businesses to act is NOW. You cannot afford to wait on getting your policies in order. Call your Meyers, Roman attorney for us to review your FMLA, paid time off, and sick pay policies, or to have us draft them for you.
Or, you can contact any of the Meyers Roman Labor & Employment team at 216-831-0042, or via email:
Seth Briskin / firstname.lastname@example.org;
Jon Hyman / email@example.com (who is also heading our Coronavirus Response Team);
and Lester Armstrong / firstname.lastname@example.org.