This afternoon, the Senate passed their second relief bill aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19 spread. The 90-8 vote today, following House passage on Saturday, sends Trump a measure providing paid sick leave. As the Senate voted, Republican and Democratic leaders were already working on the next proposal. AMSA opposed the provisions relating to paid sick leave, which was a significant concern for our membership. We also joined coalitions and reached out to the Hill expressing our opposition. Read the letter here. As a reminder, these provisions are only for employees directly impacted by Coronavirus.
 
It is also important to note that there is an option for both the Emergency Paid Leave Program and the Sick Leave Provisions for Department of Labor to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from paid leave requirements. AMSA will work to make sure that any exemption granted includes HHG providers. Below is a short summary on the final bill passed with the relevant sections.
 
Emergency Family Leave Program

The measure would create an emergency paid leave program to directly respond to the Coronavirus. Private sector employers with fewer than 500 workers and government entities would have to provide as many as 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for employees who are unable to work or telework because they have to care for a child younger than 18 whose school or day care has closed because of the Coronavirus. The first 10 days of leave could be unpaid, though a worker could choose to use accrued vacation days, personal leave, or other available paid leave for unpaid time off. Following the 10-day period, workers would receive a benefit from their employers that will be at least two-thirds of their normal pay rate. Leave assistance to workers would be capped at $200 per day or $10,000 total. Before the changes were made, the measure would have allowed leave to be taken to comply with recommendations for self-quarantine or to care for a sick family member.
 
The measure would exempt employers with fewer than 25 workers from requirements to restore an employee’s original position if it no longer exists because of economic conditions or changes to operations due to the public health emergency. The employer would have to have made reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position. Most importantly, the FMLA provisions would be in effect through Dec. 31, 2020.
 
The Labor Department would be authorized to issue regulations to:
 

  • Exclude certain health-care providers and emergency responders from paid leave benefits  
  • Exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid leave requirements
 
Sick Leave Provisions

Private sector employers with fewer than 500 workers and government entities would have to provide employees who are unable to work or telework with immediate paid sick time off to:
 
  • Comply with a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order
  • Self-quarantine per a health-care provider’s advice
  • Obtain a medical diagnosis for Coronavirus
  • Care for an individual who is in quarantine or for a child whose school or daycare has closed due to Coronavirus
 
Full-time employees would receive 80 hours of sick leave under the new emergency leave program and part-time workers would be granted time off that’s equivalent to their scheduled or normal work hours in a two-week period. Paid sick time wouldn’t carry over from year-to-year. Workers would have to be paid at least their normal wage or the federal, state, or local minimum wage, whichever is greater. However, they would be paid at two-thirds of wages for providing care to another individual or child. Leave assistance would be capped at $5,110 for a worker’s quarantine or diagnosis and at $2,000 to provide care for another individual or child. An employer couldn’t require a worker to use any other available paid leave before using the sick time.
 
Employers would be prohibited from:
 
  • Requiring a worker to find a replacement to cover their hours during time off
  • Discharging or discriminating against workers for requesting paid sick leave or filing a complaint against the employer
  • An employer could be subject to civil penalties for a violation of paid sick leave requirements
 
The Labor Department would be authorized to issue regulations to:
 
  • Exclude certain health-care providers and emergency responders from the paid leave benefits, including by allowing their employers to opt out of the requirements
  • Exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid leave requirements
  • Workers under a multiemployer collective bargaining agreement and whose employers pay into a pension plan would have access to paid emergency leave

 
Please contact Katie McMichael with questions.