• Highlights of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

    The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed March 18 and includes tax credits for businesses, paid leave for employees and supports for food security and health programs. Highlights include:

     

    Unemployment Insurance:

    The federal government will backfill state unemployment funds in states that expand unemployment eligibility to include COVID-19-related layoffs, waive work search requirements and the waiting week and do not charge employers whose layoffs are the direct result of COVID-19. 

     

    Colorado has waived work-search requirements and if it follows to eliminate employer charges, employers will not pay increased premiums as the result of coronavirus-related layoffs.

     

    Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion:

    Employees unable to work or telework to care for a child because their school or day care has closed are now eligible for FMLA. Certain health care and emergency responders are excluded. The first 10 days for which an employee takes leave are unpaid unless the employee chooses to substitute accrued leave.

    Employees must be paid at not less than two-thirds of their regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work. 

    Employers are eligible for a tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified family leave wages paid, not to exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate. Those who are self-employed are also eligible for tax credits paid as the lesser of 67% of a person’s average daily self-employment income or $200 a day. 

     

    Emergency Paid Sick Leave:

    Employers are required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees unable to work or telework because of a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order, the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis, the employee is caring for a son or daughter if the school or day care has been closed. Public health providers and emergency responders are exempted. 

    Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid leave. Part-time employees receive the number of hours they would work during an average two-week period. 

    Employers are eligible for a tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid as a result of the order, not to exceed $511 a day in personal medical cases and not exceed $200 a day for those using leave to care for children. Those who are self-employed are also eligible for tax credits.

     

    Tax relief for employers:

    Any wages paid because of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act will not be considered wages or compensation for IRS purposes and the taxes on those wages will be returned to employers through a tax credit. 

     

    Other:

    ·       The federal government has suspended foreclosures for 60 days for those with mortgages insured by Federal Housing Administration. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is encouraging private organizations to align with the federal policy.

    ·       Colorado leaders are making efforts to stop foreclosures, evictions and utility shut offs. An executive order will be released soon to address these actions.

    ·       Gov. Polis has requested that financial institutions offer a 90-day deferment of pay on commercial or personal loans, that property owners and landlord defer payments and waive late fees and has asked that no local law enforcement execute evictions. State law enforcement will not do so. Watch related press conference.

    ·       All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period of at least 60 days. In addition, each of these borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency. This will allow borrowers to temporarily stop their payments without worrying about accruing interest.