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Within the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed the House of Representatives on March 12, are significant provisions that impact mid-sized employers. The Act is now working its way through the Senate and, if approved, will be in effect 15 days thereafter and remain in place until the end of 2020.
Here is what you need to know if you have fewer than 500 employees:
Changes to FMLA
The Act includes proposed amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act that provide expanded reasons for leave, as well as pay beyond the normal two weeks (at a reduced rate). Under these temporary modifications, normal FMLA pre-requisites and eligibility do not apply.
Employees would be covered by FMLA if they have been employed for at least 30 calendar days and need to leave work due to a public emergency related to the Coronavirus. This includes benefits for caregivers of children whose care facility or school has closed. FMLA leave would also be temporarily expanded to include caregivers for a wider range of eligible family members, including domestic partners, parents of domestic partners, siblings, grandparents and next of kin.
The first two weeks of an employee’s leave could be unpaid, but the employee may use other paid time off benefits during that time. Extended FMLA benefits would be available for up to 12 weeks, 10 of which would be paid at 2/3 of the individual’s average monthly earnings (benefits capped at $4,000 per month).
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Benefit
If passed, the Act will also allow for paid sick leave benefits up to 80 hours for full-time employees (or the equivalent of two weeks for part-time employees) to be paid by employers of 500 employees or less to employees impacted by Coronavirus. This includes those who have been diagnosed or quarantined. For caregivers of those who have been diagnosed and for situations in which there is a school or care facility closure resulting from Coronavirus, paid sick leave will be provided at the 2/3 reduced rate available under FMLA.
This paid sick leave must be provided in addition to whatever the employer already provides.
The Act includes some exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees. Please contact your Grassi advisor for more information about your specific situation.