On March 18, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which went into effect April 2. Its provisions include the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, both of which require certain businesses to offer paid leave to employees affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Below are details of the act that could most affect businesses in the jewelry industry. Note: This situation remains subject to change; MJSA will do its best to keep you updated.
• Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, companies of 500 or fewer employees must provide two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave to all full-time employees who cannot work or telework because they’ve been impacted by COVID-19, regardless of their length of employment. For part-time employees, the hours of paid sick time should equal the average number of hours that the employee works over a two-week period. The act effectively divides workers into two categories:
• Employers may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the paid leave mandated by this act.
• The secretary of labor has the authority to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the requirements of this act, if those requirements would "jeopardize the viability of the business."
• Companies of 500 or fewer employees must also provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for workers affected by the coronavirus, at 67 percent of the person’s normal salary, up to $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate. The first 10 days may be unpaid, during which time employees can use any accrued paid time off (vacation, personal, medical, or sick leave). Workers must have been employed by the company for 30 days to qualify.
• The family leave can be taken by anyone who must stay at home to care for a child under 18 years old whose school or child-care provider has been closed due to the coronavirus.
• The secretary of labor can exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees if paid leave would "jeopardize the viability of the business."
• Affected companies will receive a tax credit to cover the costs of both sick leave or family and medical leave. The credit will be applied to the employer’s portion of the employee’s Social Security tax. If the costs exceed this tax, the U.S. government will treat this as a tax overpayment and refund the excess amount.
• Eligible self-employed individuals can take a tax credit for sick or family leave, following guidelines established in the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
• Both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act will expire Dec. 31, 2020