Yesterday, the Senate passed, and the President signed into law, a COVID-19 “relief” package. Of particular interest to employers is the provision requiring companies with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave to employees affected by the virus.
Under the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” employers must provide two weeks of fully paid sick leave for each employee’s own quarantine, treatment, diagnosis or preventive care. Full-time employees would be paid for 80 hours, and part-time employees would be paid based on their typical hours worked over a two-week period.
If the leave is taken to care for a family member, the pay is two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay.
AHFA special counsel for HR matters, Jim W. Wimberly, has drafted an initial “How to Comply” document that is available to help AHFA members navigate the new law. Wimberly’s firm, Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine, Atlanta, represents and advises management clients in all areas related to labor and employment law. AHFA is one of several association clients the firm represents.
The firm’s initial “How to Comply” alert is “based on our reading of the statute without any governmental guidance, and these issues seem to be changing almost daily,” said Wimberly on Thursday, March 18.
Wimberly also noted that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has updated its guidelines about pandemics specifically to cover issues related to COVID-19. The updated guidance and an FAQ drafted by Wimberly were emailed to HR departments at AHFA member companies on March 18.