WASHINGTON—President Trump has signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, which mandates, among other provisions, that employers of small businesses with fewer than 500 employees provide paid leave through the Family Leave Act to qualified workers affected by the coronavirus.
The law, passed by Congress earlier this week and signed by Mr. Trump March 18, faces considerable opposition, however, from the small-business community because of concerns the paid-leave mandates "presume liquidity and a tolerance for debt that simply does not exist at this time," according to a letter sent March 17 by 105 business groups to the Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican and Democrat leaders.
The law will take effect on or by April 2.
"We fear that these mandates will accelerate small and medium business closures," the trade groups said in the letter, "causing many Americans to lose employer-provided health benefits while straining the administrative and financial resources of state unemployment agencies."
Among the signees are the Alabama Tire Dealers Association, Auto Care Association, Automotive Oil Change Association, Council of Automotive Repair, International Franchise Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, National Small Business Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.
The groups' letter adds: "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."
The groups instead suggested a better approach would be a public program administered by the federal government to provide compensation for COVID-19-related leave.
Separately, the Tire Industry Association acknowledged that the act's tax implications have led to confusion for TIA members as to what the tax ramifications are.
"As this act is so new, the agencies currently are working to interpret it and write the regulations," TIA CEO Roy Littlefield said. "We are in contact with these agencies and as soon as we know further how the regulations will affect TIA members and their businesses, we will communicate this."
In general, the Act It also provides tax credits to businesses in such cases to help cover these costs. Exact details, however, are still being worked out.