Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 24, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued the first guidance related to the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It answered a few questions of general interest, but a lot of questions that relate to small businesses (by that, I’m talking about businesses with under 50 employees) are still up in the air. The DOL further indicated that we should not hold our breath for any regulations before the enactment date. Instead, regulations are promised sometime in April.

New effective date

The biggest surprise was the DOL announcing that the law is now going to become effective on April 1 rather than April 2. Taking advantage of some flexible language in the Act, the DOL obviously decided that it made the most sense to make a pay-related law effective on the first day of most employers’ pay periods, rather than on the second day, which was likely to create payroll nightmares. So, April 1 it is.

Benefits are not retroactive


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We know business owners and HR professionals have questions and need answers quickly to rapidly changing laws concerning the coronavirus (“COVID-19”).

Grab a cup of coffee, login in and join me for a complimentary webinar on Monday morning, March 23, at 10:00 a.m., as I share information on:

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  • Emergency Paid

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:

  1. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act; and
  2. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.


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If you are an employer wondering what’s going to happen as a result of the coronavirus, be prepared for some potentially big changes.

On Monday afternoon, March 16, the Senate will consider the House’s emergency bill to temporarily expand the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If passed — and the general consensus is that it will pass with minor modifications on March 16, and be signed into law the same day – it will significantly expand FMLA coverage for the short term.

Please remember this is only a bill, not a law yet. We will update you when the President actually signs the bill into law (likely tonight), and let you know the final provisions of the law.


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