The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is an enormous growth opportunity for benefits brokers, said the head of Prudential’s group insurance business.
Jamie Kalamarides is president of Prudential’s group insurance business, which provides workplace benefits, including the administration of paid family leave benefits. He spoke with InsuranceNewsNet about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and how benefits brokers can educate their group clients about the law’s effect on paid family and medical leave.
Morning Consult research said nearly half of Americans have heard very little or nothing about the new leave benefit and only 13% said they had heard a lot about it. Forty percent of employers said no employees had taken the leave and 20% said only a few had. And only 28% of leaders of businesses covered by the new law said they were taking advantage of tax credits available for reimbursement of employees’ paid leave.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
The act requires covered employers to provide their employees with:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of paywhere the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to federal, state or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of paybecause the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to federal, state or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leaveat two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
Covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the act.
Kalamarides said the Families First Act is a reminder that brokers bring their group clients resources and expertise in return-to-work issues. “The challenge for brokers is to convince employers that it’s better to partner than to go it alone,” he said.
He said it opens the door for a discussion on public and private insurance options that can help employers cover the costs of granting paid leave to workers.
In addition, benefits brokers can use the act to educate clients about the need for short-term disability insurance and related benefits.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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