This is the first of several posts I will make regarding US House Resolution (HR) 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by the US House. Note: This bill will now go to the US Senate. I do not expect any significant changes to be made prior to the legislation being sent to the US President for signature.
The following is only the portion relating to Paid Sick Days.
Division F - Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal and Family Care Act.
The emergency paid sick days legislation:
a. Requires all employers to allow employees to gradually accrue seven days of paid sick leave and to provide an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis;
b. Requires all employers to provide an additional14 days of paid sick leave, available immediately at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis;
c. Ensures paid sick leave covers days when your child's school is closed due to a public health emergency, when your employer is closed due to public health emergency, or if you or a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency;
d. Reimburses small businesses - defined as businesses with 50 or fewer employees - for costs of providing the 14 days of additional paid sick leave used by employees during a public health emergency;
e. Enables construction employees to receive sick pay based on hours they work for multiple contractors; and
f. Makes the bill effective immediately so that employees in areas covered under a qualifying Public Health Emergency, upon the date of enactment, can take 14 days of paid sick leave in order to address COVID-19.
Please note: At present there is no reduction for payroll taxes. The bill will become effective upon signature. Employers should begin preparing for this legislation now so that they are prepared to track their payroll expense associated with the payment of this sick leave. The US Treasury Department has not yet developed how they will provide the credits back to the eligible employers (those with 50 or fewer employees).
My earlier advise continues - small business owners should set up a separate payroll category in their payroll system reserved for "Corona Virus - Sick Leave".
This is the second of my posts on HR 6201, Families First Corona Virus Response Act. In this post I will cover a number of miscellaneous but important provisions of the bill.
Title I - Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
Food and Nutrition Service - Includes funding to ensure the domestic nutrition assistance programs have adequate resources to help those impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Funding is provided for:
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC). - 500 Million to provide access to nutritious foods to low income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs or are laid off due to the COVID-19 emergency.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) - 400 million to assist local food banks to meet increased demand for low-income Americans during the emergency. Of the total 300 million is for the purchase of nutritious foods and 100 million is to support the storage and distribution of the foods.
In addition -
The legislation includes a general provision that allows the Department of Agriculture to approve state plans to provide emergency SNAP assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive a free or reduced price meal(s) if not for their schools being closed due to the COVID-19 emergency. In order to be eligible, the child's school must be closed for no less than 5 consecutive days.
Nutrition Assistance for US Territories - $100 million for the USDA to provide nutrition assistance grants to Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Title II - Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
Emergency paid sick days program - includes 5 million for the Department of Labor to administer the emergency paid sick days program.
Senior Nutrition Program - Includes 250 million for the Senior Nutrition program in the Administration for Community Loving (ACL) to provide approximately 25 million additional home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low income seniors who depend on the Senior Nutrition programs in their communitieis.
The funding will provide meals to low income seniors:
a. who are home-bound
b. who have disabilities
c. who have multiple chronic illnesses
d. as well as caregivers for seniors who are homebound.
ACL's Senior Nutrition grants are provided to States, territories, and eligible tribal organizations and serve more than 2.4 million individually annually.
I will cover Title III of the bill later on.
This is my third post regarding HR 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This is a review/summary of Title III of the Bill. It relates to Bill Wide provisions of the Bill.
Section 102. Provides the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to issue nationwide school meal waivers during the COVID-19 emergency, which will eliminate paperwork for states and help more schools quickly adopt and utilize flexibilities.
Section 202. Allows all child and adult care centers to operate as non-congregate (i.e., they can serve outside the school or individual settings) and waive all meal pattern requirements if there is a disruption to the food supply chain as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.
Section 301. Suspends the work and work training requirements for SNAP during this crisis.
Section 302. Allows states to request special waivers from the Secretary to provide temporary, emergency CR-SNAP benefits to existing SNAP households up to the maximum monthly allotment, and allows the Secretary the flexibility to provide the states flexibility to manage the program during this crisis.
The above information is a partial review/summary of the bill. I will continue to post other updates as I read through the bill. See my earlier posts for information relating to other portions of the bill.
It is important that we all become more aware of the emergency steps our government is taking to address this issue. Please share this information so that those affected, and in need can be provided guidance on what is available to them from either their employer or appropriate government agency.