3.24.2020 COVID-19 Update

Dear VRS families,

We have been working tirelessly to try to find answers regarding this COVID-19 bill and how it will affect our small business owners and their employees. We will do our best to lay out all of the facts as we understand them today, but as you well know – things are changing every hour so please understand that if I am misstating something it is not intentional. The bill that was passed has 2 sections (Section 3102 and Section 5102) that pertain to how employers compensate employees. The information listed below covers Section 5102 (Emergency Paid Sick Leave) of that bill.

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19; as of this post, this does not include voluntary closures or recommendations from governing associations. We have been in contact with the South Dakota’s Governor’s office to get clarification on this issue. They did not have a clear direction and will reach out to the congressional office to seek clarification. We will keep you informed as we receive updates.
  2. A health care provider advised the employee to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 (self-imposed quarantine without medical advice does not qualify under the Act);
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is caring for an individual (not limited to family members, although there is a stray reference to family members elsewhere in the Act, so stay tuned) who is either subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 or has been advised to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  5. The employee is caring for the employee’s child whose school has been closed or place of care is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretaries of Treasury and Labor. The precise meaning of this sixth reason will be clarified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Benefit: Full-time employees receive 80 hours of paid sick leave. Part-time employees receive the equivalent of the number of hours they would work, on average, during a two-week period. There is a separate method for calculating the benefit for part-time employees whose schedules vary widely from week to week. For qualifying reasons 1, 2, and 3 (above), eligible employees will receive paid sick leave at their regular rate, except that in no event shall the amount paid exceed $511 per day and $5,110 in total. For qualifying reasons 4, 5, and 6 (above), eligible employees will receive paid sick leave at two-thirds of their regular rate, except that in no event shall the amount paid exceed $200 per day and $2,000 total. Paid sick leave does not carry over from one year to the next, and paid sick time ceases beginning with an employee’s next scheduled work shift immediately following termination of the need for paid sick time (i.e., qualifying need). The Secretary of Labor is required to issue guidelines to assist employers in calculating leave benefits by April 2. The employer can seek reimbursement for the wages paid to employees taking emergency paid sick leave through tax credits applicable to the employer’s portion of Social Security taxes.

For those employers that have already made the tough decision to direct employees to unemployment. Please be aware that we are working on a solution to possibly bring back the employees and take advantage of the federal assistance programs that may be available. In addition, we have requested clarification regarding employee benefits, i.e. health insurance, dental/vision insurance..etc. and how to ensure that the employee does not have a lapse in coverage.

Please do not hesitate to call with any questions/concerns.

VRS teams

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