16 March 2020

Proposed Employment Law Changes in House Bill Providing Emergency Paid Leave Hits Snag, Final Law Expected this Week after Senate Negotiations

***Information and guidance in client updates was up to date at time of publication. During the pandemic, information and guidance has been changing rapidly. If you have any questions about the information contained in a client update, please contact the author(s) or your Miller Johnson attorney.***

A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives seeking to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency Family and Medical Leave Act leave to employees impacted by the spread of COVID-19 has hit a snag in negotiations.  This bill, titled the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, is not law.  It has not been passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Trump.  According to public reporting, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi is continuing to negotiate with the White House over “major differences” in the House bill before it is sent to the Senate.

There are some reports that the Senate is not expected to pass the House bill without making changes.  Some senators have voiced concerns that the House bill is too employer-centered, requiring leave payments to come directly from the employer with some reimbursement available through quarterly tax credits, and that the House bill may have unintended consequences such as employee layoffs.  The final version sent to the President may instead provide direct governmental assistance to those impacted by COVID-19  through changes to unemployment insurance eligibility, tax rebates, small business loans, an/or payments to individuals.  The Senate is expected to take up the House bill beginning tomorrow and has vowed to move swiftly in providing economic assistance to Americans impacted by COVID-19.

We are monitoring this issue closely.  Once there is a final, signed law, Miller Johnson will advise our clients on its requirements and strategies for managing compliance.  In the meantime, please contact any attorney in Miller Johnson’s Employment Section if you have questions.