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Additional changes have been made to the proposed Families First Coronavirus Response Act as it makes its way to the Senate and possibly to the President’s desk this week.
The new legislation proposes the following changes to the bill that was originally passed by the House and written about by our Human Resources Consulting professionals earlier this week:
- Narrower range of employees who are eligible to receive expanded FMLA benefits. The bill now states that benefits would only cover employees who are “eligible for leave and those who are unable to work because they need to care for their child, who is under 18 years of age, if the child’s school or place of care has been closed or their childcare provider is unavailable due to coronavirus.”This differs from the original version of the bill that also included expanded FMLA coverage for “employees who are told to stay home by a doctor because of their own exposure to, or because they are suffering from, coronavirus, or to care for a family member who is the subject of such a recommendation.” Of course, these employees may still be eligible to take traditional FMLA leave.
- New caps on the expanded FMLA benefits. The proposed legislation now imposes a cap on how much pay employees can receive if they take FMLA leave to care for a child as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pay will now be limited to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate for the 10 weeks of paid leave (after the initial 10 days of unpaid FMLA that can be covered by paid sick time or PTO). This differs from the original bill that allowed for 2/3 of their regular pay without a cap.
- Under the amended version of the Act, paid sick leave must be granted to eligible employees if he or she is:
2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to coronavirus;
3. experiencing symptoms of coronavirus and seeking a medical diagnosis;
4. caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to coronavirus OR has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to coronavirus;
5. caring for their child if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider of the child is unavailable, due to coronavirus precautions; OR
6. experiencing any substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
These changes remove the original bill’s requirement for employers to pay employees for paid sick time in compliance with a healthcare provider or public health official’s recommendation that the employee’s presence would jeopardize others’ health because of the employee’s exposure to or symptoms of the coronavirus.
- Caps the compensation employees can receive while out on paid sick leave to:
- $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate when the employee is subject to quarantine, has been advised to self-quarantine, or is experiencing coronavirus symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis (reasons 1-3 above); or
- $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate if the employee is caring for someone who is subject to quarantine or has been advised to self-quarantine, caring for a child whose school or child care is closed or unavailable due to coronavirus, or experiencing a substantially similar condition, as specified by regulations (reasons 4-6 above).
If passed, the Act would apply to all employers with 500 or fewer employees.