On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed into law a coronavirus relief package providing paid emergency leave for American workers and free testing for COVID-19.
The Senate approved the bill, H.R.6201, on Wednesday, before moving on to deliberations over the next economic relief package surrounding the coronavirus crisis. Senate leaders were not all in agreement over the provisions of the bill, but pushed it forward despite their concerns. So, what's in the new law? Find a few key points below.
Paid Sick Leave
The law mandates 2 weeks of paid sick leave to qualified workers if they are ill, quarantined or waiting on a diagnosis or care for coronavirus. The paid sick time also applies if they are caring for family members who tested positive for COVID-19.
The law also mandates 12 weeks of paid leave for people caring for children at home during school closures or because their usual childcare provider is closed or unavailable.
Who Qualifies & Who Doesn't?
Most employees at small and midsize companies and nonprofit organizations are eligible for paid leave. Government employees will also qualify. Workers at companies with more than 500 employees are excluded—48% of the U.S. workforce, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
The Department of Labor may also choose to exempt small businesses (companies with fewer than 50 employees) where providing leave would put the out of business. Additionally, employers of first responders (such as health care and emergency responders) are exempt, if necessary.
Part-time and self-employed workers (those working in the gig economy) are eligible for paid leave as long as they pay taxes.
What Should Employers Know
The DOL has until April 2 to issue guidelines for employers on calculating paid leave. Meanwhile, employers who offer paid leave will be reimbursed through a payroll tax credit, which will also cover the employer's health insurance expenditures during employees' paid leave.
The tax credit will be issue within 3 months of the time the employer is expected to provide paid leave. Paid leave under the law is only enacted through December 31, 2020.
The package also included specific food and medical aid, unemployment benefits and mandates for free coronavirus testing. Direct checks to American taxpayers are still a topic of discussion in Congress.