The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 14, 2020. President Trump has endorsed the legislation and the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on it on Monday, March 16.
The Act will be the second emergency coronavirus response measure to be passed. President Trump had previously signed a bill to provide $8.3 billion in funding to federal health agencies and declared a national emergency on Friday over the pandemic. A third emergency measure is also being discussed.
Provisions of the Act
In addition to funding for economic assistance and COVID-19 testing, the Act contains provisions intended to support workers:
· 14 days of paid sick leave, at two-thirds (or more) of their regular rate of pay, for government workers and employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees. Leave is available to workers who are sick, have to care for a sick family member or have a child whose school or childcare facility has closed due to the coronavirus.
· Expansion of the FMLA for employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees, requiring paid leave at the two-thirds rate after 14 days.
· A tax credit for employers that provide paid sick leave benefits required by the Act.
· Additional funding for state unemployment programs.
The Act does not contain a payroll tax suspension that was proposed by President Trump.