On March 18th, the U.S. Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (The Act) by an overwhelming margin. President Trump signed the bill shortly after that as promised. Now that The Act has been signed into law, it will become effective on April 2, 2020.
The Act expands the Family Medical Leave Act to companies with fewer than 500 employees. However, there are proposed amendments that would further expand coverage to employers with greater than 500 employees. We will keep our clients updated should there be any changes.
What The Act does
Essentially, if your business has fewer than 500 employees, your business will have to provide employees who cannot work or work from home with paid sick time off if the employee is: (i) an employee subject to a coronavirus quarantine or isolation order; (ii) an employee who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to coronavirus concerns; (iii) an employee who is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus and is seeking a medical diagnosis; (iv) an employee caring for an individual described in (i) or (ii) above; (v) an employee caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider of the child is unavailable, due to coronavirus precautions; or (vi) an employee who is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by HHS in consultation with the Treasury and Labor Departments.
The first ten days of leave taken for the reasons listed above can be unpaid leave, but employees can substitute any accrued paid leave like vacation or sick leave. Other mandated paid leave, such as leave required under the Paid Sick Leave Act, may apply. After the first ten days, employers must provide paid leave for each day of Emergency FMLA.
There are additional responsibilities and conditions that you should make yourself familiar with. The ACT is comprehensive, so consider taking a look at this thorough overview from the National Law Review.
What The Act means for Broadspire Clients
Although there is minimal direct impact on our Disability and Leave clients, there may be an impact on our client partners in other lines of business. Broadspire is committed to assisting all our clients during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) epidemic.
Here are some of the steps we are taking:
- We are working with many clients to create emergency paid and unpaid leave policies to cover their employees impacted by the virus or the many closures related to it.
- Our efforts include development of a new leave in our claim system that is specific to COVID-19, for Broadspire clients not currently utilizing Broadspire Disability and Leave services. This solution will provide short term administrative support during this public health event.
- Some states have already enhanced or expanded State Disability and/or State Paid Family Leave benefits and the Disability and Leave Organization has incorporated those changes into our claim system and our claims review process.
As always, but especially at this time, we continue to support, consult, and advise our clients on how to navigate this fluid and unprecedented situation. We encourage clients to visit crawco.com/coronavirus-response to learn more about how Crawford and Broadspire are assisting clients.