Senate Receives Final Version of House Coronavirus Bill Offering Paid Leave

March 17, 2020

Update: Wednesday, March 18, the Senate approved the House-passed coronavirus bill, which now goes to the President for signature.

The Senate will now be taking up the final version of the House Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by unanimous consent, which includes changes to the paid family medical leave provisions from the previous version of the bill.

The House bill would still provide two weeks of paid sick leave to workers who must quarantine, take care of a family member who is sick with coronavirus, or care for their children whose school or daycare has closed due to the public health emergency. Workers who must quarantine or are experiencing coronavirus symptoms would receive regular pay, while workers who are taking care of a family member or their child would receive two-thirds of their regular pay.

Paid sick leave would be subject to daily and aggregate dollar limits. For workers who must quarantine or are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, a $511 per day and $5,110 aggregate limit would apply; for workers caring for others, a $200 per day and $2,000 aggregate limit would apply.

However, the amendments to the existing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) made under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act division of the bill have been scaled back. Paid family and medical leave would be provided at two-thirds of a worker’s regular pay for the next 10 weeks (to make a total of 12 weeks of leave) only to workers whose children are at home because their school or daycare has closed. This differs from the previous version of the bill that would have extended paid leave to workers who must quarantine or take care of a family member with coronavirus. This pay is limited to $200 a day and $10,000 in aggregate.

According to The Wall Street Journal, health-care providers, emergency workers, and workers who are  quarantined or are caring for a family member with coronavirus would not be eligible to take the additional 10 weeks of leave; the Secretary of Labor has the discretion to exclude health-care workers from the paid sick leave portion of the bill as well.

The expansions of paid sick leave and paid family medical leave still only apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees may apply for exemptions.

The bill still needs to be passed in the Senate and then signed by the President before it becomes law.

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