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Federal Legislative Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

In what is likely to be the first of several actions, President Trump signed into law HR 6201 “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The first thing to note is that this bill only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. The bill impacts a number of employer related programs:

  • Unemployment Compensation: Provides flexibility to state governments with respect to waiting periods and eligibility, and authorizes extended unemployment benefits full funded by the federal government for states that experience an increase in unemployment.
  • Paid Sick Leave: Requires private sector employers with less than 500 employee and government employers to provide employees with two week paid sick leave if the employee cannot work/telework due the impact of the coronavirus, including experiencing symptoms, self- quarantine, caring for individuals under a quarantine order, and caring for children if schools are closed or their caregiver is unavailable due to a public health emergency.
  • FMLA: Requires private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. There are small business exemptions that may apply with employers with fewer than 50 employees.
  • Employer Tax Credits: Provides a refundable tax credit worth 100 percent of qualified public health emergency leave wages and qualified paid sick leave wages.
  • Coverage for coronavirus testing: Requires that health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage to provide coverage and not impose any cost sharing for testing as well as health care provider office visits, urgent care center visits, and emergency room visits.

This is an expansive bill, but we wanted to touch on a few of the highlights that are most pertinent to employers. Feel free to reach out to a member of I&F’s Legislative Watch Committee should you wish to discuss this bill in greater detail. This committee consists of attorneys Frank Johnston, Anthony Ulm, and Jason Stetz.

We will continue to provide updates on pending and signed legislation at both the federal and state level.

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