It took a little longer than expected, but the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) is now law. Initially expected to go before the Senate on Monday, the House bill met with much industry resistance. The House then made some “minor technical corrections” (if 75 pages of corrections is minor) on Monday before sending it to the Senate on Tuesday. On Wednesday, March 18, the Senate approved the Act 90-8 (two Senators, one of whom was Sen. Rick Scott, were missing from the vote — self-quarantined due to possible exposure) and the President signed the Act into law a few hours later.
The final Act differs quite a bit from the initial House bill. Below is a summary of the major provisions that apply to employers.
March 20, 2020 Update
On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department, IRS, and the U.S. Department of Labor officially announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of the two new refundable payroll tax credits immediately. This relief would allow these employers to be fully reimbursed, dollar-for-dollar for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.
The Act becomes effective April 2, 15 days from the date it was signed into law. There are two subsets of the Act:
- The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act; and
- The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.