TACCA Update March 20
Friday, March 20, 2020
Posted by: Devorah Jakubowsky
On Wednesday the U.S. Senate approved H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and President Donald Trump signed it into law just a few hours later. The bill will go into effect on April 2,2020, and provides, among other things, free testing, paid leave and enhanced unemployment insurance benefits for people affected by COVID-19. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Paid Family Leave
Provides paid leave for employees that can’t work when their minor child’s school or childcare is closed due to a public health emergency. Employees on your payroll for at least 30 calendar days will be eligible for this benefit - not less than 2/3 of regular rate of pay for normally scheduled hours, which will be capped at $200 per day ($10,000 total), ending on December 31, 2020.
Paid Sick Leave
Employers will have to provide 80 hours (or the number of hours in an average two-week period) of paid sick leave for reasons to include if the employee:
- has been ordered by the government to quarantine or self-isolate
- has been advised by a health care provider to quarantine or self-isolate due to COVID-19
- has symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis
- is caring for someone in quarantine or isolation
- is caring for a minor child whose school or childcare is closed due to public health emergency
Paid leave is immediately available on April 2 and is capped at $511 per day for the employee’s own care and $200 per day when the employee is caring for someone else.
Employers are required to post notice of the requirements of this Act. A model notice will be prepared by the Secretary of Labor and made available for employers to use no later than April 9.
Review Sick Leave Policy
TACCA encourages you to review your attendance and leave policies as the current situation with COVID-19 was probably not anticipated when your policy was developed. Any sick leave policy that a company has in place will have to be honored. However, if the sick leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act go beyond a company's existing policy, a small business with fewer than 50 employees may apply for an exemption from providing paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave if it “would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.” Covered employers that are required to offer emergency FMLA or paid sick leave will be eligible for refundable tax credits.
Thinking about the ongoing difficulty in finding skilled workers, TACCA urges contractors to seriously consider the ramifications of letting employees go. Governor Greg Abbott has requested emergency designation for the entire state from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which could be effective as soon as today. Small business owners in designated states will be eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus to help with business expenses, including payroll. TACCA is keeping an eye on this and other options for assistance and will provide updates as they become available.
If you have no choice but to reduce staffing, please refer to the Texas Workforce Commission for guidance for you and your employees:
Texas Workforce Commission
These two documents on the TWC page contain very good information:
· FAQ for Texas Employers
· TWC Letter to Employers