News Alert: White House Signs Sweeping Coronavirus Sick Leave Act Into Law

This week, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will provide a wide range of assistance to employees during the COVID-19 crisis through changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The act, among other things, provides paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expands food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requires employers to provide additional protections for healthcare workers.

The law – which takes effect no later than April 2, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020 – will have a significant impact on employers due to two types of paid-leave requirements. According to an article by Foulston Attorneys at Law, employers with fewer than 500 employees must follow these requirements:

  • “up to two weeks of sick leave for an employee who is subject to quarantine or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, is caring for someone who is quarantined or ill, or is caring for a child who cannot go to school”
  • “up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for an employee to care for a child who cannot go to school or daycare because of COVID-19. Employers will be subsidized for the paid leave through tax credits.”

For paid sick leave, employers must pay full-time employees for 80 hours of work and part-time employees for the average number of hours they work over a two-week period. For those employees caring for another person, their pay rate is two-thirds of their regular rate of pay.

For paid FMLA childcare leave, employers must allow their employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for children out of school or daycare. The first 10 days may be unpaid, but after that period, employers must pay employees an amount not less than two-third of their regular rate of pay and number of work hours.

In addition, the Act includes provisions that establish requirements for providing diagnostic testing for coronavirus at no cost to consumers. The Act does not, however, include provisions for covering coronavirus treatment. Read more about how to pay for coronavirus treatment with your health savings account (HSA) here.

Where can I get my COVID-related regulatory/compliance questions answered?

Watch a replay of our recent webinar, COVID-19: Ask the Regulatory/Compliance Expert, featuring attorney Jason Lacey. We cover a number of topics related to COVID-19 and consumer-directed healthcare – from eligibility of COVID-19 expenses to the possibility of extending runout deadlines.

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