Coronavirus Relief Bill Requiring Paid Leave Signed Into Law

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act) into law. The Act requires employers to provide paid leave for some employees related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, among other measures. The leave provisions of the Act take effect no later than 15 days after it is signed by the president.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

The Act requires two weeks of paid sick leave for government workers and employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees. Leave must be made available to workers who are symptomatic or are under an order or advice to quarantine or self-isolate, who have to care for a family member under such an order or advice, or who have a child whose school or child care provider or facility has closed or is unavailable due to the coronavirus.

The Act provides that future regulations issued by the Dept. of Labor may exempt healthcare providers and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid sick leave requirement.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act

The Act provides FMLA rights for some employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees, requiring partially paid leave after 10 days when an employee is unable to work or telework due to school or child care closures related to the coronavirus.

Other Provisions

The Act provides funding for economic assistance and requires health plans to cover COVID-19 testing at no charge. A refundable tax credit for employers that provide paid leave benefits as required by the Act is also included. The U.S. Treasury is expected to use its regulatory authority to advance funds to some small businesses to cover the cost of providing paid sick leave.


Published Tuesday, March 17, 2020:

On Monday, March 16, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved unspecified technical corrections to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The “Act” would be the second, emergency coronavirus response measure to be passed. After declaring a national emergency on March 13, President Trump signed a bill to provide funding to federal public health agencies for vaccines, tests and potential treatments.

Due to the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the “Act” aims to support workers during this difficult and uncertain time through the following provisions:

  • 14 days of partially paid sick leave for government workers and employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees. Leave would be available to workers who are sick, must care for a sick family member, or have a child whose school or childcare facility has closed due to the virus.
  • Expansion of the FMLA for employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees, requiring partially paid leave after 14 days.
  • A tax credit for employers that provide paid sick leave benefits required by the “Act.”
  • Additional funding for state unemployment programs.

The U.S. Senate intends to make a decision on the bill mid-week with the exception of possible alterations to the bill.

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