Paid Sick Leave Looms: COVID-19 Update
03.17.2020 UPDATE: COVID-19 Bill
Although the Senate does not expect to render a decision regarding mandatory paid sick leave (either for the COVID-19 crisis or other reasons) until as early as Tuesday, March 24, 2020, I wanted to make sure and keep you updated on the progress.
What does the Bill say now?
Among other things, the Bill would mandate up to 80 hours of sick leave beyond what employers usually provide "to quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus" for those organizations with 500 or fewer employees (YES – I said five-hundred). It also mandates paid leave at a rate of at least two-thirds an employee's regular rate "to care for a family member for such purposes or to care for a child whose school has closed or child care provider is unavailable, due to the coronavirus.” (Direct House Bill wording).
The bill also would temporarily amend the Family and Medical Leave Act, creating protections for some COVID-19-related issues for employees AND family members.
On March 17, 2020, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a revised COVID-19 Bill scaling back the proposed leave offering to provide an exemption for small businesses. This development allows for small businesses to lobby for additional changes BEFORE the Senate votes on the Bill.
What can we do now?
Contact your ancillary organizations (ASA, PHCC, ABC, etc.) and make sure they are representing your interests in lobbying for changes.This Bill will likely impact all businesses in a serious and significant way – so make sure your voice is heard!
Because COVID-19 is anticipated to continue through the summer, I strongly recommend that you make sure you are complying with FMLA and ADA requirements.Remember – EVEN though you have under 50 (fifty) employees, it is imperative that you adhere to the requirements notifying your employees whether they do or do not qualify (HANDBOOK POLICIES ARE NOT SUFFICIENT).
Contact or at 210-846-4900 for further assistance.
As always, I will keep you updated!
PAID SICK LEAVE LOOMS: COVID-19 House Bill
A economic House Bill passed early Saturday morning has dedicated billions of dollars for paid sick leave, Unemployment insurance and other measures to help Americans impacted by the crisis; however, there are other concerns employers must begin addressing (immediately rather than later) before the Bill passes at the Senate level.
Family and medical leave (but not necessarily FMLA) and paid sick leave:
Right now, the program will require employers to provide fourteen (14) days of paid sick leave at “not less” than two-thirds their regular rate
Employees would qualify for the benefit if they are sick and have to be quarantined or treated for coronavirus AND/OR if they have to leave their jobs to take care of a family member who has coronavirus or if they have to stay home because they have a child whose school or childcare facility has closed due to the coronavirus
These benefits would include all organizations that have FEWER THAN 500 employees
These mandates could potentially bankrupt organizations that are already feeling a financial blow from coronavirus; however, this legislation would give employers either a tax credit equal to 100 percent of paid sick leave wage benefits they have paid out or offset $200 per day of wages for employees who must care for a loved one or whose child is home because of a school or daycare closing.
Nothing will preclude employers from fulfilling FMLA requirements. Remember FMLA gives us the opportunity to engage employees about illnesses and/or injuries of themselves or family members. Without some type of FMLA process (EVEN if you have never participated in FMLA before, for whatever reason), we are incredibly limited on the information we are allowed to retrieve.
What should you do now?
Update your sick and family leave policies in preparation for the upcoming changes
Before this really increases your blood pressure, remember that we will likely be able to change some components of paid sick and family leave should the legislation be modified after the crisis. We have all been through this before (remember H1N1), so the path of these legislative updates change swiftly; however, it would be irresponsible of me to not remind everyone that President Trump has been trying to pass paid sick and family leave throughout his current tenure. Therefore, I look for some form of paid sick and family leave to become permanent
Your employees will need to sign off on the changes so communicating the policies to your employees with a simple E-mail communication will not be considered effective
Do NOT panic – Ask Linda HR is here to help you with this process (in English AND Spanish). It is likely time to update those handbooks and sick leave/paid time off policies (and receive training on the same) anyway, so now is the perfect time!
Give me a call at 210-846-4900 or send an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will continue to keep you updated...until then, keep calm and be safe!