HR 6201: What Employers Need to Know About the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On March 14, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (HR 6201), intended to provide worker relief in light of the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the bill and presented it to President Trump, who signed the bill. HR 6201 goes into effect April 2, 2020.
Important! The final version of the bill differs from original drafts in significant ways. Be sure to read this Alert closely.
Here’s what you need to know:
HR 6201 applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Portions of the bill apply to certain public agencies and government employers.
Emergency Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Expansion
HR 6201 provides for up to 12 weeks of paid FMLA leave for employees under the following circumstances:
- Employees must have worked for the employer for at least 30 calendar days.
- Employers may exclude health care providers and emergency responders.
- The first 10 days may be unpaid.
- Employees may be permitted to use accrued paid time off (sick leave, vacation, etc.) during the first 10 days of leave, but may not be required to do so.
- Leave may be used when an employee is unable to work (or telework) because the employee must care for a minor child whose school or child care provider is closed due to COVID-19.
- Earlier versions of the bill made leave available for many more purposes. It is important to note that the current bill only provides paid leave for school/child care closures.
- Emergency paid FMLA leave is only available for the purposes stated above. Employees continue to be eligible for unpaid FMLA/CFRA leave according to the provisions of those statutes.
- After the first 10 days, employees must be paid 2/3rds of their regular rate of pay for each day of leave taken, based on the number of hours the employee would otherwise be regularly scheduled to work.
- Payment is capped at $200 per day and an aggregate of $10,000.
- Employers will receive a payroll tax credit for paid leave provided to employees.
- As with all FMLA leave, employees are entitled to restoration to their position upon conclusion of the leave. However, there is a limited exception to this provision for employers with fewer than 25 employees, if certain conditions are satisfied.
Public Health Emergency Paid Sick Leave
HR 6201 also provides for Emergency Paid Sick Leave. Full-time employees must receive 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave.. Part-time employees must receive a pro-rated amount equal to the number of hours the employee works, on average, over a two-week period. All employees are immediately eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave; there is no 30-day requirement.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave may be used in connection with specific circumstances related to COVID-19:
- The employee is subject to a federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
- The employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in (1) or has been advised as described in (2), above.
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter is closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
- 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.
- No certification or other documentation may be required in order to use Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
- Employees may not be required to utilize other accrued paid time off before providing Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
- Employers must compensate employees for Emergency Paid Sick Leave at the greater of (a) their regular rate of pay, (b) the applicable minimum wage, for the uses described in (1) – (3), above.
- Payment is capped at $511 per day and an aggregate of $5,110 for the uses described in (1) – (3), above
- Employers must compensate employees for Emergency Paid Sick Leave at the greater of (a) 2/3 their regular rate of pay, (b) 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, for the uses described in (4) – (6), above.
- Payment is capped at $200 per day and an aggregate of $2,000 for the uses described in (4) – (6), above
- Employers will receive a payroll tax credit for Emergency Paid Sick Leave provided to employees.
- Employers will be required to post a notice informing employees of their rights to leave. The federal Department of Labor is required to prepare a model notice within seven (7) days of the bill’s passage. AALRR will prepare a sample notice for clients.
More information to come. Stay tuned.