Trump’s ‘Families First’ Coronavirus Aid Package

Brad Nakase, Attorney

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On March 11, 2020, following Senate support for his corona-virus aid package, President Donald Trump signed a second coronavirus aid package into law. The first coronavirus emergency funding bill allocated approximately USD8 billion to preparation, prevention, and response efforts for coronavirus. The second package has been titled the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It includes paid sick leave, extra unemployment benefits, and free testing provisions. The people and agencies receiving funding must report how the money has been utilised.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) mandates that employers (with exceptions) to provide employees with broader paid medical leave and family sick leave for reasons related to the coronavirus. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.

How to Qualify for Families First Law:

Under the Family First law, an employee qualifies for broader paid sick leave, paid medical leave,  paid family leave if the employee is unable to work because:

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or mandatory lockdown related to COVID-19;
  2. The employee has been advised by a physician, doctor, or nurse to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical treatment, diagnosis, or recovery;
  4. The employee is caring for a family member who is advised by a doctor, self quarantine, seeking treatment, or recovering related to COVID-19;
  5. The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  6. The employee is going through any other similar situation described above.

How Long Can an Employee Leave Employment Under Families First Act?

For reasons (1)-(4) and (6) above:
A full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period.

For reason (5): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at 40 hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

Calculation of Pay:

For leave reasons (1), (2), or (3): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).

For leave reasons (4) or (6): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).

For leave reason (5): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period).

Families First Benefits

Free testing for Corona-virus

Under the new legislation, coronavirus testing will be free instead of having to use co-payments or deductibles. There are a number of waivers being used so the test will be covered by government programs or insurance companies.

It also includes a 6.2% increase in payments from the Federal Government to state Medicaid for the next month.

Diagnosis of low-income children will be covered under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Federal Government will provide an extra $60 million to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs so veterans can be tested. Additionally, the Indian Health Service will be given $64 million to test Native American tribe members. $1 billion is also being given to the National Disaster Medical system for testing people who don’t have health insurance.

Employment Paid Sick Leave for Coronavirus

Under the new bill, provisions are made for paid leave for some employees.

Employers with less than 500 employees must provide two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who cannot work because:

  • They have to self-isolate or quarantine
  • They have symptoms of coronavirus
  • Their children’s schools or daycares have closed
  • They are caring for someone who is in isolation or quarantine

To offset the cost of this paid leave, the government will provide tax credits to employers.

The law states that employers cannot make employees find replacement workers if they are off sick. Also, they are not allowed to ask employees to use alternative paid time off.

Self Employed workers will receive a tax credit equivalent to their sick leave amount. This is calculated by working out their daily rate.

The government will also give families three months of paid medical and family leave. This will be paid at two-thirds of the worker’s pay.

Unemployment aid for Coronavirus

Almost $1 billion extra has been given to unemployment benefit programs. Extra money has also been given to states with a high unemployment rate so people who have exhausted unemployment benefits can receive additional aid.

Food Aid for Coronavirus

Almost $1 billion has been to programs that assist people without food security. Half of this amount will be given to a program especially for women, infants, and children.

An additional $400 million is being put into an emergency food assistance program which will be available from now to 30th of September 2021.

If a child’s school has been closed for five consecutive days, then low-income households will be eligible for assistance.

Waivers have been put in place to allow more people to qualify for food benefits. The work requirements for the program have also been suspended.

An extra $100 million has been put aside for food aid for United States Territories.

See the full text of the law here: H.R.6201 – Families First Corona-virus Response Act

Related information: 

FEMA is not giving home loans for Covid-19.

California Law Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Trump Families First Coronavirus Aid Package

Who Qualifies for Paid Leave Coronavirus Under Federal Law

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We serve and protect employees’ rights. If you or someone you love need an aggressive and compassionate attorney who will listen and aggressively protect your interest, we invite you to call attorney Brad for a free consultation.

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