COVID-19 UPDATE: Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, Summary of ProvisionsMar 23, 2020
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Summary of Provisions
H.R. 6201 requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded paid Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Both paid sick leave and paid FMLA leave apply to private employers with less than 500 employees and governmental entities and the FMLA paid leave has a 30 day waiting period from when an employee first starts employment.
When an Employee Qualifies for Paid Sick Leave and/or paid FMLA leave
For paid sick leave, the conditions under which an employee will qualify are similar to Governor Sununu’s Executive Order 5, issued on March 17, 2020, but also include when “an employee is subject to Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.” It also includes an employee experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. For paid FMLA leave, the conditions that allow for such leave are those under the normal FMLA leave, but are expanded to include caring for a child under the age of 18 due to closure of schools because of a public health emergency. Also, there is a provision for both paid leave and paid FMLA leave that an employer who provides health care or emergency response may elect to exclude an employee from the application of paid leave or paid FMLA leave.
Calculating Paid Sick Leave under H.R. 6201
Length of Leave: Full-time employees are to receive 2 weeks (80 hours) of sick leave, and part-time employees are granted leave equivalent to their average hours worked in a 2-week period. Paid sick time will not carry over from year to year.
Wages: Employees taking leave for themselves must be paid at least their normal wage or the applicable minimum wage (NH follows the federal minimum wage), whichever is greater. Workers taking time off to care for a family member must be paid at two-thirds of the foregoing rate. Sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for leave taken on one’s own behalf and capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for leave taken to care for another.
An employer cannot require an employee to use any other available paid leave before using this sick time.
Calculating FMLA Leave under H.R. 6201
Covered employers must provide up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for employees who have been working for at least 30 days, and who are unable to work or telework because they have to care for a child.
The first 10 days of leave can be unpaid, however, an employee could choose to use other available paid leave for those days. After that, employees will receive a benefit from their employers equal to at least two-thirds of their normal pay rate. The paid leave is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
The U.S. Department of Labor may issue regulations to exempt small businesses with less than 50 employees from the paid leave requirements “when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”
Benefit to Employer
While an employer bears the burden of paying these benefits, under H.R. 6201, the federal government gives employers a quarterly payroll tax credit and if the amount exceeds the tax credit, it will issue checks to employers. With regard to municipalities, there is some question still as to how such a benefit would be allowed.