Legislation Enacted to Provide Paid Leave During Pandemic

As part of efforts to protect workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump signed legislation Wednesday that would provide for paid leave for employees who cannot work for coronavirus-related reasons. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act—which is effective through Dec. 31—provides employees at firms with fewer than 500 employees who have been on the job for at least 30 days with the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to quarantine or to care for a symptomatic family member or child whose school is closed due to the coronavirus.

The first 10 days of leave is unpaid; the remainder is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay. The law also gives the secretary of labor authority to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the leave provision would jeopardize the viability of the business. The law allows employers to take a credit against payroll taxes of 100% of the amount of paid leave wages, up to certain maximums.

The law also provides for two weeks’ emergency sick leave, paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, if the employee must quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus. If the employee is caring for a family member who is quarantining or seeking a diagnosis or care for coronavirus, or the employee is caring for a child whose school is closed, then the employee receives two weeks’ leave paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay.