Reed Smith Client Alerts

On March 13, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) (the "Act"). On March 18, 2020, the Senate voted 90 to 8 to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). The Act comes on the tails of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074), which provided funding to federal and state agencies to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Act is a large, bipartisan bill in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases. The Act - like the coronavirus pandemic that prompted it - will have widespread effects on employers in the United States. Our team has prepared the following summary of the Act as passed by the House of Representatives.

Mandatory Sick Leave

The largest impact on employers are the mandatory sick leave provisions. All employers will be required to immediately provide 14 days of paid sick leave in the event of a "public health emergency" (including the current COVID-19 pandemic). Paid sick leave must cover days when:

(i) an employee’s child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency;

(ii) the employer is closed due to a public health emergency; or

(iii) the employee or a family member is quarantined due to a public health emergency.

Small businesses (those with 50 or fewer employees) will be reimbursed for the cost of providing this additional paid sick leave by submitting an affidavit to the Department of Labor.

Paid Family Leave

The Act also creates and funds a new federal emergency paid family leave program. Eligible individuals are entitled to receive benefits for a month in which they take 14 or more days of leave from work due to qualifying COVID-19 events (up to a maximum of 3 months). Days for which a worker receives either pay from their employer (wages, paid sick leave, or other paid time off) or unemployment do not count. An "eligible individual" is a person who was working in the 30 days before being impacted by the qualifying COVID-19 event. Qualifying COVID-19 events include:

(i) The worker has a current diagnosis of COVID-19.

(ii) The worker is quarantined (including self-imposed quarantine) at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or government official, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

(iii) The worker is caring for another person who has COVID-19 or who is under a quarantine related to COVID-19

(iv) The worker is caring for a child or other individual who is unable to care for themselves due to a COVID-19 related closing of their school, child care facility, or other care program.