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Politics Coronavirus stimulus triggers fight over paid leave

17:55  04 april  2020
17:55  04 april  2020 Source:   abcnews.go.com

It's not a stimulus package. It's a lifeline

  It's not a stimulus package. It's a lifeline As the nation's businesses shutter and quarantining leaves millions without income, Congress has continued to kick the can down the road, with the House punting the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill agreed upon by the Senate and the White House for yet another day. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); Despite everyone from the New York Times to sitting U.S. congressmen referring to the bill as "stimulus," this is not what the bill is. Its effects on consumer and corporate demand are secondary.

Coronavirus daily update: April 03, 2020The latest news and biggest developments to keep you informed about the deadly pandemic. The Trump administration and Democrats remain at odds over who should qualify for paid leave amid the coronavirus pandemic with the administration issuing

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The Trump administration and Democrats remain at odds over who should qualify for paid leave amid the coronavirus pandemic with the administration issuing guidance this week that gives companies broad authority to determine which employees get the benefits.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump signs the CARES act, a $2 trillion rescue package to provide economic relief amid the coronavirus outbreak, in the Oval Office on March 27, 2020. © Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images President Donald Trump signs the CARES act, a $2 trillion rescue package to provide economic relief amid the coronavirus outbreak, in the Oval Office on March 27, 2020.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, known as “phase three” of the recent stimulus package, organizations with more than 500 workers are already exempt from the paid leave mandates. That leaves up to 61 million workers who could be eligible, according to the Labor Department.

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Coronavirus stimulus triggers fight over paid leave . "He was telling me they sent off the captain today and everyone was clapping while he was leaving ," Hastings continued. "They were telling the sailors to stop clapping, but they wouldn't stop."

Democrats and Republicans clashed over safety-net programs that play a central role during economic downturns in a fight that could slow aid to hard-hit communities. But one key part of the Democrats' package - paid sick leave for workers who currently lose wages when they stay home due to illness

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However, the vast majority of those businesses can apply for an exemption because they have fewer than 50 people, according to Census Bureau data.

Moreover, some Democrats remain concerned that this could shortchange employees even if their company isn’t categorically exempted from the new paid leave requirements.

Patty Murray wearing a suit and tie: Sen. Patty Murray speaks with reporters after a news conference in the Capitol, March 3, 2020. © Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images Sen. Patty Murray speaks with reporters after a news conference in the Capitol, March 3, 2020. “Thanks to Republican opposition, the steps we’ve taken on paid leave are inadequate in light of the crisis, and now, the Trump Administration is twisting the law to allow employers to shirk their responsibility and is significantly narrowing which workers are eligible for paid leave,” Democratic Senator Patty Murray said in a statement Wednesday.

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Already, Congress has passed coronavirus legislation beefing up funding for public health programs, food stamps and school lunches. That legislation also bolsters unemployment insurance and ensures paid family and sick leave for employees of small businesses. What if I currently owe the government

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Both sides face mounting urgency with nearly 10 million Americans filing unemployment claims in the past two weeks.

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The new law mandates up to 12 weeks of leave for those who qualify. Employees can request two weeks of paid leave if they’re unable to work because they’re sick and an additional 10 weeks at a reduced pay rate to care for their child if they’re forced to quarantine. 

“The legislation will enable employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus,” the Labor Department said in a statement.

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The second phase of the stimulus bill package focused on helping businesses maintain their payrolls. But the new “families first” act doesn’t prohibit companies from firing or furloughing employees and making them ineligible for leave.

“This is true even if the employer closes the worksite for a short time and later reopens,” said Katrina Grider, a legal analyst and attorney certified in employment law. “Employees would be entitled to paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave only when the worksite reopened and there was work available.”

The paid leave stimulus bill was signed into law the day before California issued the nation’s first stay at home order. As a result, questions remain about what an employer is required to offer even if they decide to shutter some work places.

“Things have been moving so fast it’s difficult for Congress to legislate to the current situation,” said Scott Witlin, an attorney who specializes in employment and labor law at Barnes & Thornburg.

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“ Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus ,” he wrote. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue — Public transport will start up again within 24 hours in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began, and people will be allowed to leave the city

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Witlin said his firm created their own forms for his clients to submit to the Department of Labor to prove a company qualifies for the tax credit reimbursements that come with providing paid leave. It’s one example of new steps employers must take to certify employees qualify for leave.

a group of people sitting at a table: Robinson Paul, right, jokes with his daughter, Kennedy, 11, while the family does school work in their kitchen in the Field's Corner neighborhood of Boston, MA on March 19, 2020. © Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Robinson Paul, right, jokes with his daughter, Kennedy, 11, while the family does school work in their kitchen in the Field's Corner neighborhood of Boston, MA on March 19, 2020.

Democrats contend the process outlined by the Labor Department for verifying whether employees are truly impacted by COVID-19 gives companies too much power to decide which of their employees might qualify.

“I think it’s very difficult to write something that’s going to cover all circumstances,” said Michael Lotito, a leading expert on workplace policy and employment law.

“It’s not unusual in employment law for there to be individualized assessments,” Lotito added.

Under normal circumstances, Lotito said, implementing complex policy like the family leave law could have taken even longer than the current expiration date for the stimulus package, which is set for the end of the year.

“The amount that we’re trying to digest in the period of two weeks is unbelievable,” Lotito said.

Coronavirus: the US Senate approves the gigantic aid plan for the economy .
© REUTERS / Tom Brenner This support plan has yet to be approved by the House of Representatives. The American Senate voted on the night of Wednesday to Thursday the emergency plan of a historic amount of more than 2 trillion dollars to stabilize the American economy already in recession due to the coronavirus. This sum is intended to support hospitals and communities, but above all to save small businesses and employees most affected by the crisis from suffocation.

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