Improvements will Ensure Workers Receive Paid Leave and Provide Relief to Small Businesses
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 18, 2020) — More than 100 business groups joined NFIB in submitting a request to Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer calling for critical improvements to H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The groups represent hundreds of thousands of businesses employing millions of employees in industries from restaurants to suppliers to contractors across the country.
The coalition’s suggested improvements will “ensure all American workers have access to paid leave in the face of this public health crisis while also providing relief to businesses and important incentives to sustain access to employer-provided health benefits, on which nearly 180 million Americans depend.”
According to the letter:
The leave mandates in H.R. 6201, which requires businesses with 500 and fewer employees to provide 12 weeks of paid leave, presume liquidity and a tolerance for debt that simply does not exist at this time. We fear that these mandates will accelerate small and medium business closures, causing many Americans to lose employer-provided health benefits while straining the administrative and financial resources of state unemployment agencies.
Although H.R. 6201 includes tax credits and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has promised to advance business money, credits will not produce sufficient liquidity in time. We fear the government does not have the infrastructure and businesses do not have the administrative resources to access these advances in the time needed to deter business closures.
A better approach would be a public program administered by the federal government to provide compensation for COVID-19 related leave. One example is the proposed program in H.R. 6198, under which the Social Security Administration (SSA) would provide financial assistance to American workers impacted by COVID-19. SSA is often one of the first agencies on the ground in natural disasters, and it has extensive experience and procedures in place for responding in emergency situations. The legislation includes multiple protections to ensure that Social Security funds are not diverted to the new emergency leave program. Other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, could also administer a program using unemployment insurance to provide compensation for leave, and we encourage Congress to also consider that agency and unemployment insurance as an option for relief.
NFIB previously sent a letter of opposition to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives warning that H.R. 6201 would “limit flexibility in a rapidly changing environment and impose potentially unsustainable mandates on small businesses.”
The NFIB Research Center also released a new survey on the current impact of the coronavirus outbreak on small business.