On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act) into law. The Act requires employers to provide paid leave for some employees related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, among other measures. The leave provisions of the Act take effect no later than 15 days after it is signed by the president.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
The Act requires two weeks of paid sick leave for government workers and employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees. Leave must be made available to workers who are symptomatic or are under an order or advice to quarantine or self-isolate, who have to care for a family member under such an order or advice, or who have a child whose school or child care provider or facility has closed or is unavailable due to the coronavirus.
Future regulations may exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid sick leave requirement. Health care providers and emergency responders may be excluded from both types of leave benefits.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act
The Act provides FMLA rights for some employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees, requiring partially paid leave after 10 days when an employee is unable to work or telework due to school or child care closures related to the coronavirus.
The Act provides funding for economic assistance and requires health plans to cover COVID-19 testing at no charge. A refundable tax credit for employers that provide paid leave benefits as required by the Act is also included. The U.S. Treasury is expected to use its regulatory authority to advance funds to some small businesses to cover the cost of providing paid sick leave.