Employer Update: “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”
Over the weekend the US House of Representatives passed legislation specifically addressing COVID-19/coronavirus: the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (H.R. 6201). It is expected to be voted on by the Senate this week.
The pending legislation, among other provisions, would amend the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include “Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act” leave, that would allow any employee who has worked for the employer for at least 30 days to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for their own medical condition, a family member’s medical condition, or a child who is home due to a school closure (employers with more than 500 employees would be exempt). Under the bill, the first two weeks of such EFML may be unpaid. An employee may choose to substitute accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or other medical or sick leave during this period, but an employer may not require an employee to do so. After the two weeks of unpaid leave, employers must provide up to 10 weeks of paid EFMLA leave.
In addition to this, the “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act” provision would provide employees with an additional 80 hours of paid sick leave. The paid leave provided under the EPSLA would be provided in addition to the paid leave already being provided by employers as of the day before enactment of the bill, and once passed employers cannot change their existing paid leave policies while the emergency act is in effect. Under both provisions of the proposed legislation, the payment required for an employee taking paid sick leave to care for a family member or to care for a child whose school has closed, would be reduced to two-thirds of their regular rate of pay. Employer tax credits for this leave are also being proposed.
This situation is changing on a daily basis, and if passed, the Senate my modify the bill as well. Below are links to several helpful employer resources:
- Information on state resources that businesses and workers can access can be found at: https://www.calchamber.com/coronavirus
- Additional information regarding current state benefits for displaced workers can be found at: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm
- The CDC resources page for employers can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html
- The OSHA/DIR Interim Guidance page can be found at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/General-Industry.html
Employee educational materials/posters on spreading germs can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/tools-resources/educational-materials.html
I will do my best to keep everyone updated once additional information on this new legislation (and any other relevant employer news) is released. I am also recommending that everyone have a plan ready just in case non-essential businesses are ordered to close at any point in our area. Attached are two articles that provide additional details on the proposed legislation, as well as the CalOSHA flyer for employers released this week. The CDC Interim Guidance page found at the link above provides recommended strategies for employers and posting the above educational materials regarding the spread of germs and handwashing is also recommended.