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ABA Issues Staff Analysis on Legislation to Provide Paid Leave During Coronavirus

As part of the federal government's efforts to protect employees impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump signed legislation Wednesday that would provide for paid leave for employees who must quarantine due to the coronavirus or are caring for a sick family member or child out of school. The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” — which is effective through December 31 — represents a significant expansion of existing protections afforded to employees who take leave to care for a sick family member.

The legislation provides employees who have been on the job for at least 30 days with the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to quarantine or to care for a symptomatic family member or child whose school is closed due to the coronavirus. The first 10 days of leave is unpaid; the remainder is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay. The bill also gives the Labor Secretary the authority to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the leave provision would jeopardize the viability of the business.

The bill also provides for two weeks’ emergency sick leave, paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, if the employee must quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus. If the employee is caring for a family member that is quarantining or seeking a diagnosis or care for coronavirus, or the employee is caring for a child whose school is closed, then the employee receives two weeks’ leave paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay.

The bill provides that an employer may take a credit against payroll taxes of 100% of the amount of paid leave wages, up to certain maximum amounts. DOL is expected to issue regulations by April 2. For more information, contact ABA’s Jonathan Thessin.