The COVID-19 pandemic has left many employers struggling to manage their businesses while simultaneously looking out for their employees. Congress has responded by enacting bipartisan legislation to provide emergency relief for employees. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) was passed overwhelmingly by the U.S. House of Representatives 363-40 on March 14, 2020 and modified by unanimous consent on March 16. The U.S. Senate quickly followed by voting 90-8 on March 18 to pass the House bill.
The Families First Act would require group health plans to provide free coronavirus diagnostic testing, without cost-sharing. In addition, it would require small and midsize employers, and government employers, to provide paid sick leave and paid family leave in certain COVID-19-related cases. Note that larger private employers would be exempt from the leave rules, based on the assumption that they already maintain paid sick leave and paid family leave policies. These leave rules are summarized briefly here in our latest alert.