Feds Pass Revised Paid Leave & Other Employer Mandates in Response to Covid-19

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March 18, 2020
Contributed by SmithAmundsen’s COVID-19 Task Force
SmithAmundsen Labor & Employment Alert
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As we previously reported, on March 14, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Bill 6201 (HR6201). The legislation seeks to protect private sector workers and government employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the face of some pushback from the “small business community” and other “special interests,” the House subsequently revised the original legislation and delivered it to the U.S. Senate on March 16, 2020.   Today, March 18, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed a modified bill for the President’s signature.  The mandates focus on three (3) primary areas that employers must IMMEDIATELY pay close attention to:  1) PAID LEAVE; 2) EXPANSION OF FMLA LEAVE; and 3) EXPANSION OF UI BENEFITS (including the possible extension of UI benefits beyond 26-weeks).  Once signed into law, the mandates are set to expire on December 31, 2020.

Paid Sick Leave:

All private sector employers with LESS THAN 500 employees and all government employers must pay any employee 2-weeks of paid leave (up to 80 hours for full-time workers, and the average number of hours over a standard 2-week period of time for part-time workers).

Paid Family and Medical Leave (FMLA):

All private sector employers with LESS THAN 500 employees and all government employers must provide any employee (who has been employed for 30 calendar days or more) up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave (FMLA) in order to care for children (under 18), if and when: a) schools are closed or daycare is unavailable because of the current emergency and b) the employee is unable to work or work remotely (“telework”).

Unemployment Compensation:

The federal government is allowing and encouraging states to be more flexible with respect to eligibility.

President Trump is expected to sign this any moment!

SmithAmundsen’s Labor & Employment COVID-19 Task Force is continuing to monitor all local, state and federal orders and legislative initiatives in these unprecedented times.  Be assured that we will continue to provide updates where and when warranted.  We will also be providing ongoing webinars on the subject to try and help employers operate as effectively and safely as possible.  With that in mind, please do not hesitate to contact your SA relationship attorney in the days and weeks ahead for direct guidance.  We are here 24/7.