March 23, 2020
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

Employers have new obligations for paid leave under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Last week Congress quickly passed, and the president signed, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The bill takes effect on April 2, and employers should be aware of its requirements. K&L Gates takes a deep look at the bill in a new analysis.

The bill offers emergency paid sick leave and other temporary relief to employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which then imposes leave requirements on employers, but only those with fewer than 500 employees.

The emergency paid sick leave provision says employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide emergency paid sick leave to an employee who:

  • Is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • Has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Needs to obtain a medical diagnosis or receive care related to COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Has to care for or assist an individual who is under self-quarantine or is subject to a quarantine order for COVID-19; or
  • Must care for a child if the school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.

In addition to emergency paid sick leave, the FFCRA amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide for payments to employees taking unpaid leave for childcare purposes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Though employers are responsible for funding the paid leave, employers are able to take tax credits for the paid leave provided to employees under the FFCRA.

The FFCRA provides that the payments made by the employer are refundable if it exceeds the amount the employer owes in payroll taxes for wages paid to employees. Specifically, employers are eligible for a tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified PHEL and EPSL wages paid by employers for each calendar quarter.

The full K&L Gates analysis has much more detail and information for employers.

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Be There for Local Business

In this unprecedented time of coronavirus, we need to be there for local businesses

By Maribel Perez Wadsworth and Kevin Gentzel, USA Today

The safety measures that have forced us indoors and away from others to help stop the spread of COVID-19 are the right thing to do. We're confident our strength and resilience will carry us through. But we also recognize our small business owners need us more than ever as they take their own precautions.

To emerge from this with our communities strong and intact, we need to ensure that what make them special -- the coffee shop down the road, the local car dealership and our neighborhood music teachers -- are able to stay afloat.

While we may not be able to give them our patronage in person right now, there is much we can do to show our support.

Visit your favorite restaurant's website and purchase gift cards for yourself and others to keep some money flowing to their bottom lines. If those restaurants are still offering takeout or delivery, make a point to order from them now and again soon. And get gift cards for massage studios, arts and crafts stores, local jungle gyms and myriad other businesses.

If your local shops sell their merchandise online, make purchases -- even if the goods won't be available right away.

If you're shopping online for things you'll need while in self-quarantine, like home exercise equipment or activities for the kids, seek out local businesses to make these purchases...

Read the full column in USA Today
Speak Up for Clean Power

Don't let Snake River dams be a coronavirus casualty. Call in to save them

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

In our community-wide effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, we must not become so focused on the pandemic that we neglect other, critical issues facing the Tri-Cities.

Of upmost importance is protecting the Snake River dams, which continue to be in jeopardy.

Last week's time for phone-in comments on the recently released, federal draft Environmental Impact Statement has come and gone, but there are three more scheduled over the next two weeks, and Tri-City participation is crucial.

Considering many people have hunkered down in a semi-quarantine, this could be a good way to spend some time. Why not prepare a statement and send in your testimony, either online, by mail or by calling it in?

Knowing you are helping to protect reliable power production and the region's economy could be invigorating. And it could take your mind off the disease for a little while...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald