On March 18, 2020, Congress passed and the President signed into law HR 6201, a broad-ranging response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

HR 6201 includes two provisions that will significantly impact employers—a temporary expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide paid leave for employees unable to work due to closure of schools and child-care facilities, and temporary paid sick leave for COVID-19-related absences. HR 6201 will become effective April 1, 2020.

HR 6201 and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Industries

With responsive measures to COVID-19 changing daily, employers in ‎the agricultural and natural resources industries should take particular note of the Families First Coronavirus Response ‎Act (FFCRA) recently passed by the federal government.

This law provides paid leave for employees unable to work due to ‎closure of schools and child-care ‎facilities (EFMLA), and a temporary paid sick leave for COVID-19-‎related absences (Paid Sick Leave)‎. Furthermore, employers with fewer than 500 employees are covered (with limited exceptions), and the waiting ‎period prior to employee eligibility is reduced to 30 days for EFMLA and eliminated for Paid Sick Leave. ‎

Employers with seasonal workforces are strongly encouraged to take a close look at the new ‎measures to ensure compliance. Please keep in mind that the law goes into effect April 1, 2020 and is not retroactive. ‎Employers should begin preparing to provide the new benefits now. If you have any questions, ‎please reach out to the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt employment lawyers, and those in the ‎Natural Resource industry ‎group with any questions.

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