March 17, 2020
NPA’s Team GRC obtained a summary of what H.R. 6201, a bill that could be enacted today, means in terms of emergency paid leave. This Update is only a briefing on the official summary on Division C – the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. The provisions in Division E – the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act will be covered separately.
Division C is relatively narrow: it amends the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA). It will require employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide all employees two weeks of “emergency” paid leave if the employee has a “qualifying need related to a public health emergency.” Current law applies to employers with 50 or more employees. New definitions of “covered employee” and “covered employer” will supersede the FMLA provisions you already know about. The amendments will apply not later than 15 days after enactment and will expire on December 31, 2020.
What is a “qualified need related to a public health emergency”? H.R. 6201 limits its emergency FMLA paid leave to covered employees who are unable to work or telework in order to care for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care has been closed due to the public health emergency. Division C only covers an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a federal, state, or local authority.
What will the amendments require? H.R. 6201 requires covered employers to provide up to ten weeks of paid leave to covered employees. The first 10 days for which an employee takes the new “emergency” FMLA leave will be unpaid. Employers may elect to substitute accrued vacation leave, personal leave, medical or sick leave to cover this 10-day period. The total of required paid leave under H.R. 6201 will be ten weeks of qualifying paid emergency FMLA leave for covered employees.
Who qualifies as a “covered employee”? This is another big expansion of the FMLA. Covered employees are those who must have been employed for at least 30 days. This means many more employees will be eligible for emergency paid leave, as it is a change from provisions of the FMLA that treats covered employees as those who have worked for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period.
How much pay will covered employers be required under H.R. 6201? Division C’s emergency paid leave requires at least two-third of employee’s regular pay. The pay must reflect the number of hours a covered employee would be scheduled to work if there were no emergency. Paid leave is not required to be more than $200 a day and is limited to $10,000 aggregate for each employee.
Does H.R. 6201 provide options for businesses that could be jeopardized as a going concern? The Secretary of Labor will have authority to exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees whose businesses’ vitality will be jeopardized. We have no details on how this may work.
This GRC Update is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice to NPA members.
Members should consult their own lawyers for legal advice.
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