COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act (March 19, 2020)

Hours after the Senate voted to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Families First”) that the House of Representatives passed last week, President Trump signed the bill into law on March 18, 2020.  Effective April 2, 2020 (15 days after enactment), private employers with fewer than 500 employees and governmental employers (including municipalities and school districts) will be required to provide paid leave benefits to employees impacted by COVID-19.  These paid leave benefits are available to eligible employees in two separate forms: 1) partially-paid FMLA leave, and 2) paid COVID-19 sick leave.  The FMLA benefits are provided through an amendment to the FMLA recognizing an additional form of qualified leave.  The paid sick leave benefits are provided through a new law, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.  Each benefit expires on December 31, 2020.  The Families First provisions are enforced under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which can result in steep penalties for employers who do not comply, including liquidated damages, fines and payment of the employee’s attorneys’ fees and costs. To see our full legal update, click here.