Somerset previously sent out an explanation and clarification on the HR 6201 bill that the House passed over the weekend and made adjustments to on Monday. Below are some highlights of the bill, as well as major changes that were made before final passage and signature by the President.
The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. President Trump signed the bill into Law later Wednesday night.
This bill is designed to ensure free testing, paid leave for certain workers, and it also bolsters unemployment insurance. The bill applies to employers with 500 or fewer employees. Big businesses, companies with more than 500 employees, are excluded from the bill.
NOTE: Senate Majority leader McConnell also explained that the Senate is working on putting together an additional bill to combat the coronavirus, and to further assist small businesses.
UPDATE: There were modifications to the original bill. Below are some updates/modifications.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
The following are reasons defined in the bill as qualifying for Emergency paid sick leave:
- Employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine related to COVID-19 – For clarity, this provision does not include employee lay-offs due to reduced business or government mandated shut down of businesses. Such a situation will require the employee to immediately apply for unemployment benefits. The government will provide unemployment payments to such employees.
- Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19
- Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis
- Employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine order, or the individual has been advised to self-quarantine
- Employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place or care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions
- Employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health
- Emergency paid sick leave related to an employee’s own condition is calculated at the employees’ normal rate, but is limited to $511 per day, with a 10-day cap, so a total of $5,110.
- Emergency paid sick leave when the employee is taking care of a qualified individual is calculated at 2/3 employees normal rate but is limited to $200 per day for a total of $2,000 (10 days).
- An employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the sick paid leave.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act Changes
- Employees qualify if they have a “Qualifying need related to a public health emergency”
This means that the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for a son or daughter under 18 years of age because the school or place of care has been closed or is unavailable due to COVID-19.
- Family and medical paid leave is calculated based on an amount that is not less than two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay AND the number of hours the employee would otherwise work. The maximum amount of pay per day allowed is $200.
- The payment above is for 10 weeks, so the maximum amount an employee may be paid under this portion of the Act in total is $10,000 ($200 per day = $1,000 per week (5 days) = $10,000 over 10 weeks).
- For clarification, the 10 weeks of FMLA pay kicks in AFTER the two weeks of emergency sick pay leave. The combination of the FMLA and sick pay leave amount to 12 weeks of total pay.
- Employers are allowed a tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave and emergency family and medical leave wages paid.
- The amount of qualified sick leave wages and family emergency and medical leave wages taken into account are also capped at the $200 per day for employees acting as caregivers. Up to 10 weeks.
- For qualified sick leave, the wages taken into account are capped at $511 per day for an employee who is quarantined because of their own condition. Up to two weeks.
- The credits are still refundable.