HR 6201 Signed into Law: What’s Different about the Bill?
NPMA has provided an updated breakdown of HR 6201 as it has now been signed into law by President Trump. It will take effect on April 2nd, 2020 and remain in effect through December 31, 2020.
Passed by the House on Saturday and the Senate on Wednesday, this bill has moved more quickly than any bill in recent memory especially given the price tag will likely be close to $200 Billion. Technical corrections were passed by the House late Monday which have changed – in some cases significantly – what the bill offers. Below is our original summary with the changes noted.
Who does this Bill apply to? If an employee has worked at least 30 calendar days with your company, then they are eligible for the benefits below – this is a change as under FMLA the employee would normally have to be employed for 12 months. These programs are for companies with 500 employees or less.
Update: FMLA changes are available if an employee has worked 30 calendar days with your company. Sick Leave is available immediately. These programs are for companies with 500 employees or less, except for several possible exceptions noted for businesses either under 50 or under 25 employees.
Changes to FMLA in the Bill for 2020: Under current law, employers are required to give up to 12 weeks of job-protected medical leave (meaning an employee cannot be fired), but they are not required to provide any pay during that time. HR 6201 would provide paid leave for workers if they have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, if they are caring for a family member (expanded to include any of the following: an adult child, next of kin, grandchild and grandparent, if the individual is pregnant, a senior citizen, or an individual with a disability, or with access or functional needs, foster and adoptive parents, stepparents, parents of a domestic partner, parent-in-laws, and guardians) or if they are caring for a child or another dependent because of a school or care facility closing. The bill provides 12 weeks of job-protected paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave—of which the ! first 14 days may be unpaid—for employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees. During those first 14 days an employee can use personal or sick leave, but employers may not require employees to do so. After those 14 days, the employer must compensate at 2/3 the rate of the employee’s regular rate of pay. This applies only to coronavirus related absences, not for any other reason and will only hold through 12/31/20, so this is not a permanent change to FMLA. Employers can take 100% of the amounts paid to employees as a refundable tax credit against the employer portion of Social Security taxes.
Update: Paid leave is now available only for if they are caring for a child or another dependent because of a school or care facility closing and are unable to work or telework as a result. Payment is $200/day or $2000 in the aggregate.
The bill also grants the Department of Labor the ability to provide an exemption for businesses with 50 or less employees who find allowing employees off work to care for a sick child or dependent would jeopardize the business.
Paid Sick Leave Changes for 2020: Employers with 500 employees or less will be required to provide additional sick leave. Full time employees will be given 80 hours of paid sick leave and part time employees are given paid sick leave equivalent to the hours they work on average over a 2-week period. This paid sick time must be used in relation to coronavirus infection (for example: doctor’s visits, voluntary or mandated self-isolation, etc.)
Update: Paid sick leave available to employees will be limited to $511/day or $5111 in the aggregate if the employee is home due to his/her own isolation/quarantine. Employers may require “reasonable notice” from an employee after the employee has triggered paid sick leave under this section. Should an employee’s hours vary from week to week the bill sets out a formula to determine at what rate the employee shall be compensated. The bill outlines an exception for employers with less than 25 employees if the employee’s job no longer exists due to the coronavirus pandemic, which requires employers to make reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position over a one-year period.
All paid sick time – whether part or full time- is to be compensated at the regular rate of pay and employers would have to post a notice informing employees of this right. Employers are not allowed to change their policies to in any way evade this requirement. This would also expire on 12/31/20.
Update: The provision that prohibited employers from changing their currently existing paid sick leave policies in response to H.R. 6201 has been removed.
Small Business Assistance
The Small Business Administration has loan programs specifically geared to help businesses affected by the pandemic. More information is here.
Note on Exemptions for small businesses: While these exemptions are in the law, there is no explanation of how to show that it would jeopardize a business. It is expected that the Department of Labor will clarify this through the regulatory process, but it is not guaranteed that a business would qualify.