Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Reopening is going to be its own mess

I keep thinking about the business owners who are pushing to "reopen" the economy so they can make their employees risk illness to make them money. I wonder how many of them aware of that the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (signed into law on March 18) created a new right to emergency paid sick leave (EPSLA) and emergency paid family medical leave (EFMLEA) for employees of certain small businesses. The long and short of it is that if a business reopens and recalls its employees, but the schools are still closed, employees who have school age children might be able to immediately take up to 12 weeks of paid leave paid by the employer. They don't get full pay, only 2/3. But they won't be working. So those employees would come off the unemployment rolls (which is paid by a state-run insurance program) and onto the employer's payroll, but the employer would not be able to get the employee's labor.

EPSLA and EFMLEA only apply to employers with between 50 and 499 employees, so if some businesses reopen while schools are closed there might be a crazy patchwork of businesses required to pay for paid leave and its competitors who are not.

"Reopening" is going to be complicated. Because things won't all reopen at the same time, there are going to be weird side effects when some things are open and other, also important things, are not.