Pending federal Coronavirus legislation could create major changes to the FMLA.

We’re taking HUGE here.

Yesterday, I detailed (here) the latest news on the push for paid sick leave relating to coronavirus and other public health emergencies.

Today, I bring you news of a 100-plus page House Bill that is being negotiated and may come up for a vote tomorrow.

There is a section in the bill about paid sick days for public health emergencies. But, I’m more interested in this section of the bill, which would expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover employees with only 30 days of service and employers of all sizes, not just 50 or more employees.

Check this out. The House bill would amend the FMLA as follows:

  • Includes leave for a “qualifying need related to a public health emergency” as a basis for leave entitlement, which includes caring for an impacted “family member.”
    • Anyone employed for at least 30 days by the employer would be eligible for this leave as long as the employer has 50 1 or more employees, although, in most instances, this leave could not be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule.
    • If employees take this leave, they can run their bank of PTO concurrently, but employers cannot mandate that they do so.
    • An employee need only provide the employer with such notice of this leave as is practicable.
    • As for certification, “an employer may not require such documentation until not later than 3 weeks after the date on which the employee takes such leave.” (I have no idea what this means)
    • The job restoration rules for smaller businesses (fewer than 25 employees) are a little funky.
  • Other notable changes
    • The FMLA definition of “parent” would expand to include a biological, foster, or adoptive parent of the employee, a stepparent of the employee, a parent-in-law of the employee, a parent of a domestic partner of the employee, or a legal guardian or other person who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a child.
    • The new term “family member” would include a parent of the employee, a spouse of the employee, a sibling of the employee, next of kin of the employee or a person for whom the employee is next of kin, a son or daughter of the employee, or a grandparent or grandchild of the employee.

Whether any of this passes is anyone’s guess. Fox News reported here that Democrats and Republicans were meeting last night to hash out a deal. The Hill reports here that an agreement may happen tomorrow.

I’ll follow up on Monday with all the details.

Until then, don’t look at your 401(k), please stay safe, and have a nice weekend.

Oh, and PS, I’m thinking about doing one or more live video chats next week with blog readers (Facebook Live, maybe) for a COVID-19 Q&A. Is that something you’d want? Email me and let me know.

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