As promised, here’s our continued, quick effort to keep you on top of things.
• Yesterday, after several hurdles and several senators’ attempts to amend the bill, the Senate officially passed and President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law. Among other things, the FFCRA expands the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and mandates that employers provide paid leave to their employees affected by COVID-19.
o This new law will become effective in 15 days, so now is the time for employers to comply with FFCRA by April 2. This law covers most businesses, so chances are you are covered and must comply. If you have any questions about what FFCRA means for your business, please check out our article posted earlier this week or participate in our webinar tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Register Here for the webinar.
• The third relief bill is now on the horizon. While the bill is still speculative and theoretical at this point, the Trump administration has spoken about what it will look like: As soon as April 6, the administration hopes to make $250 billion in payments to the American people, with a second $250 billion to go out around May 18. These payments would be based on family income and size. The important part in this potential bill is the administration wants $300 billion to help small businesses, such as bars and restaurants, that have shut down in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. This bill plans to infuse about $1 trillion in total into the U.S. economy.
o Again, none of this is set in stone, but the last two relief bills moved forward very quickly, and this could be a helpful bill for Americans and small businesses. It seems both political parties are trying to ease the minds of Americans and keep the economy intact.
• Earlier this week, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) passed an emergency rule related to partial unemployment claims. In yesterday’s Stanton Law daily digest, we shared that Georgia employers are responsible for filing partial claims online for their employees who are working fewer hours because of COVID-19. This emergency rule also requires Georgia employers that separate 25 or more employees on the same day for the same reason to submit a Mass Separation Notice to the GDOL. This notice is required for any separation that is permanent, indefinite, or expected to last longer than seven days. So, this includes furloughed employees. This rule is in effect for 120 days or until the GDOL passes another rule.
o If you are thinking of closing down your office or shuttering certain departments, keep this Georgia rule in mind. If 25 or more employees are affected, you must provide the GDOL notice of your closure. You will also need to file partial unemployment claims for any employee who works less than their regular schedule because of COVID-19.
o This might seem like a lot, but it may actually help Georgia employers. When you file these partial claims, your employees will receive unemployment insurance benefits. This may allow you to close down your business to keep you from losing even more money, and mollify your employees, since they will be able to bring in some form of income while they are at home.
• Kansas marks the first state to close its schools down for the remainder of the school year. Most states have closed their schools for several weeks. But it seems like states are trending towards finishing the school year online, with California telling parents to be prepared for online classes the rest of the year and Florida canceling all tests for the spring. Georgia colleges have also taken the step of shutting down their campuses for the rest of the spring semester and switching to online classes.
o With the closures of schools and this new paid leave being signed into law, businesses need to prepare for implementing the Emergency Paid Leave policy as soon as possible. It is highly likely your business has a few employees who qualify for this new paid leave with kids needing to be taken care of at home.
If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 and your business, please do not hesitate to call us at 404-531-2341 or set up an appointment on one of our attorneys’ Calendly.
Stanton Law is glad to be one of your resources for daily updates on COVID-19’s effect on your business. Just contact your experienced Atlanta employment attorneys at 404-531-2341 or online.