Benefits Provided to Workers Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)

These are the highlights of the bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 18, 2020.  All sections of the bill are to be in effect by April 2, 2020. Some of the details may change as it is implemented by the federal and state agencies.

COVID-19 testing fully covered

  • Every person in the country now has access to COVID-19 testing without need for prior authorization, or the payment of any deductibles, coinsurance, or copays - coverage is free.
  • This applies to private-employer based insurance along with all other forms of insurance (ACA exchange, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, etc).
  • The uninsured can get testing either through their state temporarily expanding Medicaid or via a special $1 billion emergency fund set up by the federal government.  Either way, as with the insured, testing is at zero cost to the individual.

Certain workers gain access to paid sick leave/paid family leave

  • Two new types of emergency paid leave are available to workers of certain employers beginning April 1 until December 31, 2020. Unfortunately, the leave is not retroactive to cover workers who fall ill in the month of March.
  • Up to 80 hours of paid sick time is available for many workers to deal with COVID-19 sickness, symptoms similar to the illness for which you are seeking medical treatment, or a quarantine order, or to care for sick loved ones. These benefits are for full pay up to a daily cap of $511 for your own illness, or 2/3rds pay up to a daily cap of $200 for caring for a family member.
    • Covered workers include:
      • State and local government employees.
      • Independent contractors, the self-employed, and “gig” workers.
      • Employees of private employers with less than 500 workers.
    • Some healthcare workers and emergency responders may be excluded from coverage even if their employers otherwise qualify.
  • Additional paid leave is also available for some workers to take care of children whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19. This leave includes:
  • Use up the above 80 hours of paid sick leave at 2/3 pay, up to a daily cap of $200.
  • An additional 10 weeks of paid leave at 2/3 of the worker's regular rate, up to a daily cap of $200, for workers who have been employed for at least 30 days.
  • Covered workers include:
    • State and local government employees.
    • Independent contractors, the self-employed, and “gig” workers.
    • Employees of private employers with less than 500 workers.
  • Some healthcare workers and emergency responders may be excluded from coverage even if their employers otherwise qualify, and employees of small businesses with fewer than 50 workers may not qualify if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
  • A job must be available upon return, but if you work for a very small employer (with 25 or less workers) you may return to an “equivalent” position instead of your exact position.  
  • Nothing in the law diminishes any benefits currently in existing collective bargaining agreements, or any benefits provided under state or local laws mandating sick time or paid family leave.  
  • For more information, see the Department of Labor's website.

Food security expanded

  • Over $1 billion in additional funds to ensure working-class people continue to have access to food.
  • Any household which has children who otherwise qualify for a free/reduced school lunch can get emergency food assistance through SNAP.
  • States can maintain federally-funded free/reduced school lunches even when schools are closed.
  • All SNAP work training requirements are waived.

State unemployment systems shored up

  • $1 billion in emergency grants to states related to unemployment insurance.  
  • States which have an unemployment spike of more than 10% will have extended unemployment (26 weeks or longer) 100% paid by the federal government.
  • The federal government will no longer require states to impose a one-week waiting period before benefits can begin.