Update on Covid – 19 Legislation

In follow up to our post from yesterday, we have another update for you related to the impact of Covid – 19 on employers with regards to their benefit program.  

First, here are two good resources for additional information: 
Here is an update on Employment, Liability, and Workers Compensation Law from Smith Haughey.
Here is a link to daily webinars on various legal topics related to Covid – 19  from Miller Johnson.

Earlier this afternoon the Senate passed House Resolution 6201 with no changes.  Here is the good overview from Warner Norcross and Judd released on 3/17/20.  As we outlined yesterday, there were significant gaps (flaws) in HR 6201, however with the House not scheduled to return until 3/23 the Senate felt it was better to pass what they could rather than wait for perfection.  

From our perspective the two biggest issue with the current legislation are: 

  • Exclusion of employers with 500 employees or more;
  • Exclusion of employees laid off as a result of the financial impacts of the coronavirus from the expansion of FMLA, as opposed to those who are sick, related to someone who is sick, or home due to the closure of schools. 

The legislation is slated to take effect 15 days after the President signs it, which we anticipate will happen by tomorrow.  A big question this generates is what happens in the interim and when does the clock start ticking for benefits.  Does it start when the law goes into effect or when someone initially went out on leave?  We will be monitoring this closely and expect more clarity by the end of the week. 

With the Detroit Three announcing their closure through the end of March effective  Thursday, we expect to see this impacting the broader supply chain very soon.  Additionally, as the number of cases continues to increase, the likelihood of a country wide shelter in place is growing by the day.  Based upon our assessment of the recently passed legislation employees impacted by a layoff or a government shut down would not be eligible for expanded FMLA at this time.  We do believe the latter, at employers with less than 500 employees, will be eligible for the sick time benefit.  That being said, there are many questions that remain unanswered.  

Here are additional items we do know: 

  • The Congressional leaders are already working on the third piece of legislation which will be the largest yet.  We anticipate it will include: 
    • Fixes to HR 6201
    • Direct financial assistance for the vast majority of Americans, likely in a check or check(s)
    • Additional assistance for the hardest hit sectors of the economy, such as airlines, cruise lines, and small businesses.  
  • This legislation is on the fast track, with expected passage yet this week or early next week at the latest.  
  • It is expected the top four Congressional leaders and the White House will all support the package which will guarantee passage. 
  • The magnitude of this crisis is not lost on our elected officials and we believe they will err on the side of too much vs. too little.  

Based upon conversations we’ve already had with a number of employers we understand that each situation is unique and many questions remain related to how can/must be continued and how the sick pay will reimbursed.  We are more than happy to talk through your specific situation with you and will also keep you up to date on any additional information we learn.  
Please know we are here to support you and your colleagues in any way we can

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