Visit the CDC for the latest news on COVID-19.
Thursday, March 19 -
On March 18, 2020, the Senate passed, and the President signed into law sweeping legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is designed to help American families prioritize health and safety during this national emergency.
The law requires testing for the COVID-19 virus and also expands FMLA and sick leave available to employees while providing tax credits to employers that provide the leave. Below are the details as outlined by the Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA) via Thomson Reuters:
Mandated Coverage. Group health plans and insurers offering group or individual health insurance must cover—without cost-sharing, preauthorization, or other medical management requirements—FDA-approved, in vitro diagnostic products to detect the virus that causes COVID-19. The coverage must include related services furnished during urgent care, emergency room, or in-person or telehealth provider visits that result in an order for or administration of a covered diagnostic test. This requirement, which cross-references HIPAA portability definitions and enforcement provisions, and also applies to grandfathered health plans, is effective from the date of enactment for the duration of the public health emergency declared by the Secretary of HHS.
FMLA Expansion. The legislation includes the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, which amends the FMLA to require employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid public health emergency leave to certain employees through December 31, 2020. The emergency leave generally is available when an employee who has been employed for at least 30 days is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave to care for a son or daughter under age 18 because a school or place of care has been closed, or a childcare provider is unavailable, due to an emergency with respect to COVID-19 that is declared by a federal, state, or local authority. The first 10 days of leave may be unpaid and then paid leave is required, calculated based on an amount not less than two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay and the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled to work, not to exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate. Certain exemptions and special rules apply, and a tax credit may be available (see below). [EBIA Comment: No changes have been made to the FMLA’s health benefit provisions. But the additional leave rights may result in more employees taking FMLA leave, which will affect administration of group health plans. Employers should review their policies and procedures in light of the changes (e.g., new definitions and temporary timeframes).]
Emergency Paid Sick Time. Private employers with fewer than 500 employees, and public employers of any size, must provide 80 hours of paid sick time to full-time employees who are unable to work (or telework) for specified virus-related reasons. Part-time employees are entitled to sick time based on their average hours worked over a 2-week period. This amount is immediately available regardless of the employee’s length of employment. The maximum amounts payable vary based on the reason for absence. Employees who are (1) subject to a quarantine or isolation order, (2) advised by a health provider to self-quarantine, or (3) experiencing symptoms and seeking diagnosis, must be compensated at their regular rate, up to a maximum of $511 per day ($5,110 total). Employees caring for an individual described in category (1), (2), or (3), caring for a son or daughter whose school is closed or child care provider is unavailable, or experiencing a “substantially similar condition” specified by HHS must receive two-thirds of their regular rate, up to a maximum of $200 per day ($2,000 total). Employers cannot require employees to find a replacement worker or use other sick leave before this sick time. Employers may exclude health care providers and emergency responders, and the DOL can issue regulations exempting businesses with fewer than 50 employers. The sick leave mandate takes effect not later than 15 days after enactment and expires December 31, 2020.
Tax Credits. The legislation provides payroll tax credits for employers that make required sick or family and medical leave payments, as described above. The credit is increased for expenses the employer pays or incurs to provide and maintain a group health plan that are excludable from employees’ income as accident and health plan coverage and are “allocable” to these leave payments under rules to be prescribed by the Treasury Secretary. Various limitations apply—e.g., on the amount of wages and number of days taken into account—and the credit is not available to certain governmental employers.
Thursday, March 12 -
GilsbarPRO’s Preparations for the Coronavirus
GilsbarPRO has been monitoring developments with COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) since its inception. When responding to an infectious disease, our company closely follows the recommendations and guidance made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and county health departments. While many variables are surrounding COVID-19, we are committed to providing quality service to you, our valued partners. Here at GilsbarPRO, it is business as usual. Our top priorities are ensuring the well-being of our employees and maintaining our ability to serve our clients.
What is GilsbarPRO Doing?
Our employees are taking the necessary steps to prepare for the potential spread of Coronavirus. Prevention is a priority. Here are some of the steps we are taking to ensure a safe work environment and maintain our operations:
- Remote Work: For years, GilsbarPRO has worked with a flex work program that allows our employees to successfully meet the needs of our partners and clients anywhere while maintaining a better work/life balance. GilsbarPRO is fully capable to serve our clients remotely, if necessary. We are confident that there will be no disruption to our operations.
- Communication: GilsbarPRO employees have the ability to connect online with a comprehensive digital platform. With virtual meetings and online communication, we will continue to serve our clients with our customary high-level of service.
- Sanitation: Facilities are cleaned daily and additional focus has been placed on wiping down all high-touch surfaces.
- Education: Employees are being educated on how to prevent the virus from spreading.
Our top priorities are the safety and health of our employees and meeting the needs of our partners and clients. GilsbarPRO will continue to monitor this evolving situation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your contact at GilsbarPRO.