On March 18th a new piece of legislation was signed into law allowing for provisions and aid for families during the Coronavirus. Much has already been published on the details of the whole relief package, but we wanted to ensure you had some of the important information. During this time of uncertainty, we are waiting on conformation of a what some of the finer points of this package will look like. If you have specific questions as to how this could affect you as an employee or your small business, contact our office.
This relief package is aimed towards businesses with fewer than 500 employees – these are typically considered small to mid-sized business. If your company already offers employees two or more weeks of paid sick leave, then you will likely not see many changes tied to this bill. However, if you do not offer 2 weeks of paid sick leave, then this new legislation will require you to offer paid sick leave. In addition, all businesses will be required under this legislation to offer 10 weeks of job-protected paid leave at a lower pay rate. Job-protected paid leave is considered leave for a specific reason – i.e. caring for a new child or in this case time off due to COVID-19 – while the position remains open for when the employee returns to work. Initially employers will pay for the leave out of pocket but will be fully reimbursed by the government within three months via refundable tax credits that count against employers’ payroll tax and other measures.
If your business has fewer than 50 employees and complying with this new legislation would jeopardize the viability of the business, there is an opt out available. Currently it is unclear how a business of this size will be able to request exemption or how exactly the guidelines for exemption will be applied. No matter the size of your business you need to notify your employees of their rights under this Act by March 25. The Secretary of Labor will have created a notice by that date as well.
For you to be considered qualified by your employer to claim paid sick leave you need to have been employed by the company for at least 30 days before being impacted by COVID-19. For example, if you have a young child who is now home due to schools being closed, you need to have worked for the company for 30 days before their last day in school. As an employee you are eligible to claim paid leave for several reasons. The primary ones being:
- You have been exposed to COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of it
- You have been told to quarantine at home by a healthcare provider and do not have the ability to work from home
- You need to care for a family member who has been exposed to COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of it
- You need to care for an underage child because of school and day care closures or your childcare provider is unavailable.
More information is continually being released on how this piece of relief legislation will be enforced, so keep an eye on credible news outlets on businesses such as Forbes or Accounting Today. We are also here to help answer any questions you may have.