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Family First Coronavirus Response Act should mean help for many families who will lose income from coronavirus

(Source: WRDW)
(Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 5:04 PM EDT
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Thursday, March 19, 2020

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- More and more employees are at home and not at work or bringing home a paycheck. Federal and state government, along with the private sector employees, are working to bring relief for people out of work.

“It’s going to have a major impact on our economy and that’s what we are concerned about,” attorney Tanya Jeffords said. “If people are not able to get paid, then how are they going to be able to take care of their families?”

President Donald Trump signed the Family First Coronavirus Response Act Wednesday night. Here is what it means for you:

What if you are home for months?

Employees can receive paid emergency leave if they are home because of a current diagnosis of COVID-19 or are self-quarantined at the instruction of a healthcare provider, employer government official. Employees also qualify if they are home to care for someone who has COVID-19 or is under quarantine or is home to care for a child because a school or a childcare facility is closed.

Paid emergency leave is three-quarters of the worker’s salary which caps at $4,000 a month. The employee must be out of work for at least 2 weeks.

What if you are furloughed?

Employers must now allow workers to begin accruing sick time while also providing two weeks of immediate sick time. Workers can use this sick time if they’re home to care for a child or quarantined or diagnosed or if their workplace is closed. Construction and contractors also qualify for this sick time.

What if you lost hours or laid off?

“If you are an hourly employee, there is no right to work in the state, so if you are an hourly employee, the employer has the right to say I am going to close down my place because I don’t have any business and can’t afford to pay you and there is not much recourse except that you have unemployed,” Jeffords said.

Workers still employed, but are working less or are laid off can apply for unemployment. In Georgia, their employer must apply on their behalf. In South Carolina, the workers apply themselves.

“If you are an exempt employee and do any sort of work so most people are exempt right now are working from home, so if they do any sort of work, even if it’s reduced work hours, they should probably be paid their same salary,” Jeffords said.

A sudden loss of income can be devastating. The state and federal government is working on other measures to bring relief to people at home, but here is what you can do in the meantime: call your utility companies ASAP if you may have a hard time making a payment. Also, call your internet provider, several have promised not to turn off service during this time.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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