Small Businesses Prepare for Paid Sick Leave Requirements

March 16, 2020 – In response to the coronavirus pandemic and impact on employees and employers across the country, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) is expected to pass sometime today or tomorrow.  This Bill is significant for small businesses and has a number of emergency Acts that will make some small business required to provide paid and/or job protected leave when they haven’t been required to previously.

This situation is very fluid and moving quickly, therefore, there may be slight changes once this is finalized, but here are some of the key points in this act that may impact you as a small business:

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act requires employers with less than 500 employees to:

  • provide 2 weeks of paid sick leave at the employees regular rate if impacted by coronavirus to quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventative care for the coronavirus; or
  • the employer must pay the employee at two-thirds their regular rate of pay to care for a family member due to coronavirus or to care for a child whose school has closed or child care is unavailable, due to the coronavirus
  • Post a notice of the Paid Sick Leave Act (a model notice will be issued)

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Expansion Act requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide job protected to leave to employees impacted by coronavirus based on the below eligibility.

Employees that have been on the job for at least 30 days may take up to 12 weeks or job protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to be used for:

  • To adhere to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus;
  • To care for an at-risk family member who is adhering to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus; and
  • To care for a child of an employee if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child-care provider is unavailable, due to coronavirus

The first 2 weeks are unpaid by the employer and the employee can choose to use available PTO, but can not be required by the employer.  The paid leave requirement kicks in on the 15th day and can’t be less than 2/3rd of the employees regular pay.  Adjustments are made accordingly for PT based on their regularly scheduled work week.

The Emergency  Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act is included in this bill to assist States in relaxing some of the eligibility requirement, waiting periods and job search requirements so the employees impacted by layoffs or loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic can get coverage under unemployment insurance.  This will vary by state.

Once this is finalized and passed, both the Emergency FMLA Expansion and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act will go into effect 15 days after the date it is enacted and will be active through December 31, 2020.

We understand how difficult this can be to navigate through for a small business, so our team of HR experts are here for you and available to help.