EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES NEED TO KNOW THE NEW LAW
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the Emergency Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”), was signed into law by President Trump. The emergency paid sick leave provisions of the Act apply to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. These employers are required to provide employees with two (2) weeks of paid sick leave for any of the following COVID-19 related reasons:
- The worker has a current diagnosis of COVID-19;
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- The employee has been 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 under quarantine;
- The employee is caring for a child(ren) if the school or place of care of the child(ren)or daughter has been closed or the childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in discussion with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
Employers may not require employees to exhaust their current sick leave before using paid emergency leave under the Act. Additionally, employers cannot change their existing paid leave policies, like vacation or paid time off (PTO). Further, an employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave, provided by the employer’s existing policies, before the employee uses the paid emergency sick leave provided for under the Act.
The amount of emergency sick pay that an employee is eligible to receive will depend on how many hours he/she works during a workweek. Employers will be entitled to refundable tax credits to cover wages paid to employees during their emergency sick leave.
If an employer determines that it must begin to lay off its employees, it will need to notify its employees of the availability of unemployment compensation, at the time of termination, and proceed with allowing them to file for unemployment benefits. Included in the Act is an Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act, which provides emergency unemployment funding to the states and quicker unemployment application response times to individuals who were laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis.
For employers with 25 employees or less, the Act provides that employers will not be required to restore the employees to their pre-emergency leave position if the following conditions are met: 1) the employee takes leave due to a declared public health emergency; 2) the position held by the employee when the leave commenced no longer exists due to economic conditions or other changes in operating conditions of the employer that were caused by a public health emergency during the period of leave; 3) the employer makes reasonable efforts to restore the employee to a position equivalent to the position the employee held prior to taking leave, with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment; and 4) if the reasonable immediate restoration efforts of the employer under are unsuccessful, the employer makes reasonable efforts to contact the employee if an equivalent position becomes available at a future time.
The Act will take effect on April 2, 2020 and will remain in place until the end of 2020. We will continue to monitor the Act for new updates. If there is anything that we at Kelli Haas & Associates can do to assist you or your loved ones during this time of crisis, please do not hesitate to contact us (615) 567-7300. You can also email us directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We wish you all safety and health during this time.