House Passes Bill Affecting Small Businesses

In the early morning hours of March 14, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” by an overwhelming vote of 363-40. It is an understatement to say this bill has significant ramifications for small businesses. While the bill will not become law until it has passed both the House and the Senate (and been signed into law by President Trump), employers with fewer than 500 employees should begin to immediately prepare for the likelihood that some, if not all, of their employees will take some sort of leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its current form, the bill would impact virtually every employer in St. Joseph with the exception of only a few very large employers. There are three primary aspects of the bill that impact you as an employer: (1) expanded paid FMLA leave; (2) mandatory paid sick leave; and (3) tax credits for qualified sick leave wages.  The bill includes features such as:

  • Extending application of FMLA leave to include COVID-19 – related issues such as caring for family members who are quarantined, caring for children whose school has been closed due to COVID-19, etc.
  • 12 weeks of paid FMLA leave (the first 14 days may be unpaid).
  • 80 hours of paid sick leave.
  • Significant penalties for employers who fail to pay leave wages in accordance with the law.
  • Certain tax credits for employers.

Please note this is just a very brief summary of some of H.R. 6201’s provisions – which has not yet become law. The situation continues to be very fluid and could change at any moment, depending on any action taken by the House, Senate, or Trump administration.

Should you have any questions, you should call one of the corporate attorneys at MTSE at 816-364-6677.