Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FACTS)
On Wednesday, March 18, the Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R.6201). This is Phase 2 of a four-part stimulus package aimed to provide relief to Americans as the COVID-19 virus continues to wreak havoc on our lives and our economy.
To recap, Phase 1, otherwise known as the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R.6074) was signed into law on March 6.
This bill provided $1 billion dollar loan subsidies for small businesses and $4 billion to increase the amount of coronavirus tests available. It also provided additional funding for the CDC, FDA, National Institutes of Health (NIH), the State Department, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Phase 3, which is expected to pump an additional $1 trillion into the economy, is coming soon (stay tuned because we will have an update for you when that happens).
Keep reading below to see exactly how this latest legislation affects you and your family.
Coronavirus Response Act – Phase 2: What It Means for You
We will save you the political drama surrounding this particular coronavirus relief bill, and get straight to the facts.
Here’s a quick overview of what’s included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act…
- Requires employers to provide paid sick leave.
- Federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- Expands unemployment benefits and provides grants to states for processing and paying claims.
- The bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect healthcare workers.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave portion of the Act takes effect April 20, 2020, and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.
It covers employees of companies with less than 500 employees–regardless of the amount of time they’ve been with the company.
Businesses will be reimbursed by the government within 3 months through tax credits. These credits can be claimed against payroll taxes due, with an excess owed paid as a refundable credit.
It also covers self-employed and gig-workers paid as independent contractors who are unable to deliver services due to coronavirus-related circumstances.
The benefits cover sick leave and family leave.
Sick leave: Employees can take 80 hours of sick leave at full pay, capped at $511 a day.
The employee is covered should the following apply:
- Medical treatment for COVID-19
- Under medical quarantine
- Suspect they have COVID-19
- Ordered to quarantine at home by the government
If the employee must stay at home or not be able to work remotely because they are taking care of someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19 or their child’s school or daycare is closed, 2 weeks of sick pay is two-thirds of pay and is capped at $200 per day.
Family leave: Employees covered under the Act are eligible for 12 weeks of family leave if they are forced to stay at home due to daycare and school closings.
The first 2 weeks are unpaid. Week 3-12 are paid at a rate of two-thirds of the regular pay, with a $200 cap per day.
While businesses with fewer than 50 employees are covered, they might qualify for an exemption if this causes too much hardship.
- Free coronavirus testing, including for the uninsured.
- Temporarily increases the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).
Food assistance and nutrition programs:
- Allows certain waivers to requirements for the school meal programs,
- Suspends the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program).
- Allows states to request waivers to provide certain emergency SNAP benefits.
- Nutrition assistance grants for U.S. territories.
- Appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services for nutrition programs that assist the elderly.
- More funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
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