How the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Will Affect Employers

March 20, 2020 Written by Oralie Chapman

We are living through a difficult time. Personal lives and businesses have been affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus) in all kinds of ways. Businesses are being asked by the government to do their part in preventing the spread of the virus and those that can turn their manufacturing abilities from their usual products to medical equipment such as ventilators are offering their help. The Federal government is attempting to do its part to help businesses and workers and to protect the economy from disaster by passing a series of bills.


On Wednesday this week, President Trump signed a coronavirus emergency aid package called H.R.6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The law provides paid sick leave to a percentage of American workers, free coronavirus testing and expanded unemployment benefits.


Here's a breakdown of what the act includes.


How the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will affect employers


As reported by NPR.org, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will provide a number of provisions to help people get through this difficult time.


The bill will help people by providing:

Free tests - free coronavirus testing to the public, which means no deductibles or copayments. The cost of the tests will be covered by a temporary increase in federal payments to Medicaid for states, by private insurance or government programs such as CHIP, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service.


Unemployment assistance – unemployment benefits will be increased by almost $1 billion in state grants to pay for processing and paying unemployment insurance.


Nutrition assistance – nutrition assistance funding will be increased by almost a billion dollars for those that suffer from food insecurity or will because of being laid off. The funding will increase access to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, a temporary emergency food assistance program and others. An additional $100 million will be used for nutrition assistance grants for U.S. territories including Puerto Rico.


The paid sick leave part of the bill is what will affect some employers:

Paid sick leave – The bill creates a federal emergency paid-leave benefits program to provide payments to some employees. The bill also provides up to three months of paid family and medical leave, equivalent to no less than two-thirds of the person's pay.


The legislation requires employers with more than 50 and less than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid sick leave for the following reasons:

  • If employees are unable to work because they are sick or were exposed to the coronavirus and must self-quarantine.
  • If employees are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.
  • If employees are caring for someone who is in quarantine or isolation and/or have children in schools that are closed because of the virus.


Note:

  • Employers will receive tax credits to offset the costs of giving this paid leave to their employees.
  • Employers will not be allowed to require an employee to find a replacement worker for themselves or to require them to use other paid time off that they are already entitled to.
  • People who are self-employed will be given a tax credit equivalent to the sick leave amount.


Why partnering with a PEO can help reduce issues with Coronavirus in the workplace


A PEO provides small businesses with many advantages that they might not otherwise be able to afford. These advantages have become even more important during this international health crisis.


When small business owners partner with Makai HR they:

  • Gain peace of mind that they are complying with all of Hawaii’s labor laws, which is especially important when decisions are being made about how to handle a health crisis.
  • Can provide comprehensive health care plans that will give your employees peace of mind about going to the doctor for treatment and testing.


We are also here to support your business when you decide to work remotely:

  • Our cloud-based platform means that your employees can manage their HR needs through a computer, tablet or phone, making it easier for them to work from home.
  • Our cloud based HRIS platform means that your HR team can manage HR remotely if they are sick or everyone is working remotely.


Pro tip: this is a good time to encourage all employees to update to Direct Deposit to reduce in person bank transactions and continue timely payroll payments. Do not delay. Contact us today to get started!