Yesterday the U.S. Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act by a vote of 90-8. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week and both of West Virginia’s senators, Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, voted to pass the bill. President Trump has already signed it into law. Below is a summary of what is included that will primarily affect members of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Our friends at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have compiled a more complete outline of what is contained in this bill.
We also encourage you to view the West Virginia Chamber’s webpage on COVID-19, which contains multiple resources for businesses and individuals.
-Provides an additional $1 billion for state unemployment insurance programs. It also removes the 1-week waiting period before an individual can apply for unemployment and it authorizes states that experience a spike in unemployment to provide benefits beyond the usual 26 weeks. This extension is fully funded by the federal government.
Paid Sick Leave
-The bill requires private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide two-weeks of paid sick leave for eligible employees. Eligible employees include those who are unable to work or telework because:
To fund this mandate, private sector employers subject to this requirement are entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid by the employer. The tax credit is applied against employer Social Security taxes, but employers are reimbursed if their costs for qualified sick leave exceed the taxes they would owe.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
-Requires private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide employees with 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Eligible employees include any employees who have been employed at least 30 days if they are out in order to:
To fund this mandate, private sector employers subject to this requirement are entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified paid FMLA wages paid by the employer. The tax credit is applied against employer Social Security taxes, but employers are reimbursed if their costs for qualified paid FMLA exceed the taxes they would owe.
Provisions for Diagnostic testing
Health plans are required to provide coverage for diagnostic testing at no cost to the consumer. The bill also provides approximately $1.2 billion to reimburse the cost of testing for individuals without health insurance and to help with testing for the Department of Defense Health program, Indian Health Service, and Veteran Medical Services
Medical Devices Liability
The bill provides limited liability protection for manufacturers who are making personal respiratory protective devices.
Issues with Cash Flow for Small Businesses
As the bill is written, small businesses affected by these provisions would see reimbursement with quarterly tax payments. The bill provides regulatory flexibility to waive penalties for businesses not submitting their payroll taxes if they do so in anticipation of a refund under this bill.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is the 2nd Congressional funding action related to this pandemic. The first was in regard to increasing funding for critical testing. Congress is currently working on a 3rd and larger package that is hoped to contain meaningful financial assistance for businesses facing severe revenue problems because of Coronavirus.