Paid Sick Leave – Coming Soon?

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) has now recommended that Americans cancel or postpone all gatherings of 10 or more people for the next eight weeks, in an effort to slow the spread of the
Coronavirus. But what does this mean for the millions of Americans who are not
able to work from home, as companies are going remote?

Just last night (Monday, March 16th, 2020), the
Families First Coronavirus Response Act has completed the first leg of its a
journey, by making it through the House of Representatives This Act would
provide: 

  • Free coronavirus testing
  • Paid emergency leave
  • Enhanced unemployment insurance
  • Additional funding for nutritional programs
  • Protection for health care workers and employees
        responsible for cleaning at-risk places
  • Additional funding for Medicaid

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had already announced
that as of March 13th the White House agreed to pass the bill once it made it
through Congress.

As always, the first draft was not the form of
the bill to make it through congress. A ‘technical Correction package” was
added, and the exact changes made in that package are unclear at this time. One
of the main points of this package was to allow exemptions for small
businesses. This updated version was passed unanimously through the
House. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel stated
that “senators on both sides have spent the last several days carefully
studying the House proposal” and “are eager to act quickly to support American
workers, families, and small businesses”. McConnel continued that the House
bill is only the start, multiple committees are discussing additional steps to
provide further financial assistance, to assist small businesses, and better
support health care systems. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other
Democrats will be unveiling a “comprehensive proposal” as early as Today,
Tuesday the 17th of March, which would provide an “immediate infusion of at
least $750 billion” in response to the crisis. This plan is focusing on:

  • More money for hospitals
  • Expanded unemployment insurance
  • More funds for small businesses
  • Assistance with child care
  • Food assistance for seniors 

among other issues. Some worry that with this
more drastic (and costly) plan in the works, Senators will be hesitant to
approve the more modest Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Most congresspersons agree with the ideas behind
both of these bills and wish to see them put into place as quickly as possible.
Mcconnel and Pelosi just received a plea from the American Hospital
Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses
Association, asking Congress to “provide additional supplemental emergency
funding of at least $1 billion”, as the number of cases of coronavirus in the U.S. has jumped to over 3,500 this past weekend. At least two of those cases
were on Capitol Hill, with two D.C. staffers testing positive. The social
distancing implemented in D.C. to slow the spread means that Tuesday’s caucus
lunch will be done via conference call, and could potentially slow these
bills. 

We here at Converge will work to keep you
updated as these bills progress. If you have any questions about your work from
home, sick leave, or other practices please reach out to your Consultant.

Read more: SHRM Politico

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