Late Friday, the United States House of Representatives passed a relief bill aimed at containing the widening effects of the coronavirus on the United States economy and public health. The bill H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, is supported by President Trump and still needs to pass the Senate.
Here are some of the key features of the bill:
- Employers with under 500 workers must provide two weeks of paid sick leave for full-time employees who become infected with the coronavirus or need to care for someone who is infected, as well as employees who are quarantined or whose place of work or children’s school is closed due to the coronavirus. For part-time workers, employers with under 500 workers must pay them the typical number of hours they work in a typical two-week period;
- After two weeks of paid leave, employees would receive a benefit from employers that will be no less than two-thirds of employees’ usual pay;
- Employees of companies with under 500 workers would have the right to take up to three months of job-protected leave to quarantine themselves or to care for family members who are quarantined or for a child whose school has been closed. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“NJFLA”), employees need to have been employed only for thirty (30) days to be entitled to this benefit;
- The bill calls for a tax credit for businesses and self-employed individuals to cover sick leave equal to one hundred percent (100%) of qualified sick leave wages (with certain caps) paid by an employer for each calendar quarter;
- The bill proposes $1 billion in grant funding for states to expand unemployment benefits for people who lose their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak.
As noted above, the bill still needs to pass the Senate. There are also a lot of unanswered questions, including how it will interact with the federal and various states’ family and medical leave laws. Stay tuned for further developments.