HR 6201 The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
This bill, which is expected to be passed in the Senate without significant modification, requires all employers to provide paid sick leave, allocates federal funding for new disaster unpaid sick leave, increases funding for low-income food assistance, and increases health care worker protection. Beyond increasing funding for state unemployment insurance, this bill falls short of the mark as it does not provide small businesses the economic support required.
- Financial help for low-income pregnant women and mothers who lose their jobs or are laid off due to COVID-19 emergency.
- Financial help for local food banks during the emergency.
- SNAP assistance for children on free or reduced meals.
- Funds for low-income seniors to receive home-delivered and pre-packaged meals
Health Care Worker Protection
- Requires employers to develop and implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers from COVID-19 exposure or “Guideline for Isolation Precautions.”
- Employers that do not comply will pay penalties similar to OSHA violation penalties.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
- Creates a new federal emergency paid leave benefits program.
- Eligible workers are those with COVID-19 diagnosis, who are quarantined, or caring for someone under quarantine, and must take 14 or more days of leave from work.
- Receive a benefit for the days they do not receive payment from their employer or do not receive unemployment compensation.
- Benefit amount is up to $4,000 – reduced by state or private paid leave the worker receives.
- Available for leave taken from 1/19/2020-1/19/2021.
- Benefits are not subject to federal income tax.
Increased Funding for States to Pay Unemployment Insurance Benefits, including interest-free loans to help pay regular Unemployment Insurance benefits through December 2020.
Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies
- Requires all employers to allow employees to:
- gradually accrue seven (7) of paid sick leave;
- provide an additional fourteen (14) days available immediately in the event of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis;
- paid sick leave shall also cover days when
- employee’s child’s school is closed due to public emergency;
- when employer is closed due; or
- if an employee or employee’s family member is quarantined or in isolation due to public health emergency.
- Reimburses small businesses (50 or fewer employees) for costs of providing 14 days of additional paid sick leave used by employees during a public health emergency;
- Construction employees receive sick pay based on hours they work for multiple contractors.
- Bill is effective immediately so employees in areas covered under public health emergency can take 14 days paid sick leave to address COVID-19.
- Private health plans required to cover the cost of testing, including urgent care and emergency room visits in order to receive testing for COVID-19. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the consumer.
- Medicare Part B – Requires Medicare Part B to cover beneficiary cost-sharing for provider visits. Currently, diagnostic tests are covered with no beneficiary cost-sharing.
- Medicare Advantage – At no cost to the individual, coverage for testing and provider visits.
- Medicaid and CHIP – At no cost to the individual, coverage for testing and cost of provider visits.
- Uninsured Individuals – requires National Medical Disaster System to reimburse costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided to individuals without insurance.
- Personal Respiratory Devices – these devices will be treated as covered countermeasures.
- Veterans, Federal Workers, and those individuals enrolled in TRICARE – have coverage for testing at no cost.
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives will not experience cost sharing for testing.
- Increases states’ federal medical assistance.
- The only guidance so far is the High-deductible health plans can cover COVID-19 testing.
- Low-interest loans for small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus in disaster zones.
- An interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
- Maximum 30 years repayment.
- Additional Information (1-800-659-2955 or [email protected]
- The following areas in Washington, Oregon, and
Idaho are currently (as of 3/17/2020) eligible:
- Washington – Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, San Juan, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman, Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Clallam, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Okanogan, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Spokane, Wahkiakum, and Yakima.
- Oregon – Gilliam, Hood River, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Wasco.
- Idaho – Benewah, Latah, Nez Perce.
State of Oregon
- Guidance from Governor Kate Brown issued
3/12/2020 to Employers regarding social distancing measures should be observed
to the extent possible:
- Maintain a distance of at least three (3) feet between employees in offices and at worksites;
- Implement staggered work schedules;
- Cancel or limit in-person meetings by utilizing teleconference and videoconference technologies;
- Limit all non-essential meetings of twenty (20) or more individuals, including after-work functions;
- Limit all non-essential work travel—in-state, national, or international work travel;
- Limit all work-sponsored conferences, tradeshows, and other events.
- Employers should also:
- Establish flexible leave policies for staff who need to stay home due to school, childcare, and event dismissals;
- Consider paid leave policies for people with COVID-19 symptoms;
- Consider shift equivalent paid leave policies for hourly employees who have work hours decreased or canceled due to implications of COVID-19;
- Implement extended telework arrangements where feasible.
- Businesses, whether indoor businesses (museums, movie theaters, retail stores, grocery stores, gyms, etc.) or outdoor businesses (outdoor markets, zoos, etc.) should:
- Post signage reminding people who are sick to stay home;
- Display signs that encourage handwashing;
- Limit crowding, and implement social distancing measures to ensure individuals are at least three (3) feet apart, whenever possible;
- Increase cleaning of high-touch surfaces.