AGC opposes paid leave provision in emergency COVID-19 response bill signed into law

Association cites concerns regarding mass construction layoffs, employer bankruptcies, and supply chain issues

March 20, 2020
Associated General Contractors of America

This week, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that would guarantee paid sick leave for many U.S. workers as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency, a move the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America says it opposes.

According to a report from Construction Dive, AGC said in a letter to Senate leaders this week that the legislation might lead to mass construction layoffs, employer bankruptcies, and supply chain issues that could delay the construction of medical and emergency facilities.

The U.S. Senate passed the bill, titled the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, by a 90-8 vote earlier on Wednesday. It was first passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 14, and a revised version passed Tuesday.

AGC Vice President of Government Relations Jimmy Christianson reportedly warned in the letter that the measure comes at a time of “extreme economic uncertainty among so many small business employers already exposed to cash-flow difficulties.”

According to Construction Dive, the legislation amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to allow U.S. workers to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave if the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need to care for a child under 18 years of age as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The provision applies to companies with 500 or fewer employees, and these businesses would be reimbursed for the paid leave costs via quarterly tax credits.

The letter reportedly noted that 90% of the construction industry's 700,000 firms are small businesses of 20 or fewer employees that depend on reliable cash flows to meet payroll and project needs.

“AGC recommends that the federal government—not construction employers—is best equipped to administer and front compensation for COVID-19-related illness leave,” the letter says. “Federally-backed agencies and programs could provide the financial security and economic resiliency for both employers and employees to endure through this crisis.”

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SOURCE: Construction Dive

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