Congress readies Coronavirus response legislation employee leave

Published in the March 2020 issue of North American Government News

The U.S. Congress is working to quickly pass legislation addressing employee and employer concerns regarding the Coronavirus public health emergency.

Early on Saturday, March 14, 2020, the House passed HR 6201, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” by a bipartisan vote of 363-40.  The House approved technical corrections to the bill making significant changes to the original language on March 16. The Senate may take up the legislation as early as today (March 17).

The bill addresses paid family medical leave, paid sick leave and unemployment insurance. If approved, the Department of Labor would issue regulations that clarify any of these paid leave provisions. If approved it is slated to take effect 15 days after the President signs the legislation.

The bill would also allow employers to recover some of the expenses associated with expanded leave through specified tax credits each quarter.

While the bill has not yet been approved by the Senate, some Senators have begun to call for modifications to allow additional employer flexibility.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday sent out a communication saying that further steps will be needed to directly help Americans overcome financial challenges and to secure our nation’s economy, particularly Main Street small businesses.

As HR 6201 progresses through the legislative process towards approval, Congress has already begun work on the next emergency legislative package which is expected to be centered on economic stimulus measures.

NTEA will continue to provide updates on congressional actions regarding employers, employees and possible economic stimulus or relief as they become available.

Updated on March 19, 2020: Read article on Families First Coronavirus Act (H.R. 6201)

To better understand how members are modifying their operations and the steps you’re taking on behalf of your employees and organization, we’ve created a short snapshot survey (member login required). Should you have time and interest, we’d like to learn more about how we can help, and this information is a start.