The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) requires certain employers to provide benefits which are in addition to those already required by the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Effective April 2, 2020, employers will have to provide covered employees their regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined, or on the advice of a healthcare provider, is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
Additionally, covered employees must be paid 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantial or similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor. The Act does not apply to certain employers who are deemed to work in the “healthcare industry” and the Secretary of the Department of Labor is given authorization to determine when employers can be given relief from the Act for “good cause”. As of March 24, 2020, the Secretary of Labor has not identified which specific businesses may enjoy the exemption.
It is worthy to note too, that the Act may not apply to employers of less than 50 employees where imposition of the Act could have a negative detrimental effect on the long term viability of the employer.
Because the Act is not retroactive, it has the perverse effect of encouraging employers to terminate their employees before the effective date (April 2, 2020).
Finally, employers may receive a tax incentive if they are compelled to comply with the Act
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