New federal sick leave law – who’s eligible, who’s not and how many weeks do you get

Source: Elizabeth C. Tippett, The Conversation, March 19, 2020

On March 18, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The legislation is an emergency intervention to provide paid leave and other support to millions of workers sidelined by school closures, quarantines and caregiving.

An obvious question you’re probably wondering is, “How will it affect me?”

The bad news is that the law does not provide blanket coverage for all workers. Instead, it’s a confusing mess – legislative Swiss cheese, full of exceptions and gradations that affect whether you are covered, for how long and how much pay you can expect to receive.

I study employment law and have combed through the bill to make sense of it. The law also provides emergency funding for unemployment insurance and subsidizes some employer health care premiums, but my focus here is on the core elements pertaining to sick and family leave.

Here’s what I learned.

Examining the Employment Profile of Institutions Under the Mission-Driven Classification System and the Impact of Collective Bargaining

Source: Louis Shedd, Stephen G. Katsinas, Nathaniel Bray, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy, Vol. 11, Issue 1, 2020

From the abstract:
The focus of this study is an analysis of institutions, salary expenditures, employment categories (full-time professors by academic rank), and number and average pay of full-time faculty. Our new mission-driven classification system provides the framework for the analysis and specifically presents the data by both the presence or lack of a collective bargaining agreement. The goal of this paper is to illustrate differences in monetary compensation of full time faculty using the mission-driven classification system (as opposed to the Carnegie Classification) and to see the impact of the presence or lack of collective bargaining agreements. We argue that the Carnegie Classification is not how state officials–governors, legislators, and the general public view higher education in America. We argue that a public frame is needed to understand, support, and advance public higher education. We present data that shows difference by geographic type (rural, suburban, urban) for a much more precise understanding of how collective bargaining impacts faculty salaries.

The Aftermath of Janus v. AFSCME: An Ongoing Assault on Public Sector Unions

Source: Ann Hodges, American Constitution Society, ACS Issue Brief, March 2020

From the summary:
With the Supreme Court having overruled precedent and declared public sector “fair share” fees unconstitutional in Janus v. AFSCME, anti-union forces now have a new target: repayment of the fees paid to unions prior to the 2018 decision. Arguing that Janus should be retroactive, these advocates are seeking “millions of dollars from public sector unions, money collected in compliance with existing laws and already spent on representing employees.”

In a new ACS Issue Brief, Ann Hodges, Professor Emerita at the University of Richmond School of Law, explains the history of these restitution claims and why they are legally dubious. Hodges also questions whether “the employee plaintiffs in these cases [are] acting out of moral conviction and righteous motives or [if] they [are] being used by powerful interests to defeat the efforts of working people to join together collectively to combat the power of wealthy individuals and corporate actors.”

Healthcare employees concerned about profit, clients during COVID-19 outbreak

Source: Morgan Frey, S&P Global, March 27, 2020

More than half of healthcare workers are confident that consumer demand for their products and services will not decline as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, although some warned their businesses were facing serious challenges, according to a survey. The Voice of the Enterprise survey was conducted by 451 Research LLC, an offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence, between March 10 and March 19 and represents 820 responses. Of the healthcare employees surveyed, 54.8% said they did not expect a loss or reduction of customer demand, which was higher than any other industry in the survey. S&P Global Ratings expects the coronavirus’ impact on the healthcare sector will be “moderate” versus other industries.

Related:
S&P: For-profit hospitals may weather procedure cancellations amid COVID-19
Source: Ricky Zipp, S&P Global, March 26, 2020

Most for-profit hospitals should have enough liquidity to overcome the next three to six months of volume declines as the coronavirus pandemic continues to stress health systems and take a toll on the U.S. economy, according to S&P Global Ratings analysts.

Not-For-Profit Acute Care Sector Outlook Revised To Negative Reflecting Possible Prolonged COVID-19 Impact
Source: S&P Global Ratings, March 25, 2020
(subscription required)

Key Takeaways:

  • We have revised our not-for-profit acute health care sector outlook to negative due to the quickly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent investment market deterioration which could pressure credit quality.
  • We believe certain credits, especially those with healthy unrestricted reserves and liquidity, may be better able to manage through this crisis.
  • Duration, location, and severity will be important considerations in determining the broader impact of this pandemic on the sector.

Pension investment losses are poised to inflict material damage on US municipal credit

Source: Moody’s, March 24, 2020
(subscription required)

Recent US public pension investment losses are likely to severely compound the pension liability challenge facing many state and local governments. At the same time, the economic fallout from the coronavirus is reducing revenue levels and threatening the ability of governments to afford higher pension costs.

Coronavirus-driven filing extension will delay income tax revenue, but states have resources to bridge the gap

Source: Moody’s, March 27, 2020
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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended the deadline for filing federal income taxes and tax payments by three months, and many if not all states that levy personal income taxes will follow suit. States will therefore receive a large portion of their income tax revenue in July rather than April, which will force them to make adjustments to bridge budget gaps, but most have considerable financial flexibility to blunt the credit-negative effects of the delays.

Revenue securing certain US state and local debt will weaken as coronavirus slows economy and travel

Source: Moody’s, March 30, 2020
(subscription required)

Tax revenue used to repay state and local special tax debt — debt secured by specific tax revenue streams such as hotel or car rental taxes — will rapidly decline amid the coronavirus-related economic downturn. A state or local government with a dedicated reserve fund or the ability and willingness to cover a gap in pledged revenue bolsters the credit quality of certain special tax debt.

Fortifying Main Street: The Economic Benefit of Public Pension Dollars in Small Towns and Rural America

Source: Dan Doonan, Maryna Kollar, Nathan Chobo, Tyler Bond, National Institute on Retirement Security, March 2020

From the summary:
As many small towns and rural communities across America face shrinking populations and slowing economic growth, a new report finds that one positive economic contributor to these areas is the flow of benefit dollars from public pension plans. In 2018, public pension benefit dollars represented between one and three percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on average among the 1,401 counties in 19 states studied.

These findings are detailed in a new study, Fortifying Main Street: The Economic Benefit of Public Pension Dollars in Small Towns and Rural America.

This new report finds that public pension benefit dollars also account for significant amounts of total personal income in counties across the nineteen states studied. For all 1,401 counties in this study, pension benefit dollars represent an average of 1.37 percent of total personal income, while some counties experience more than six percent of total personal income derived from pension dollars.

The report’s key findings are as follows:

  • Public pension benefit dollars represent between one and three percent of GDP on average in the 1,401 counties studied.
  • Rural counties and counties with state capitals have the highest percentages of populations receiving public pension benefits.
  • Small town counties experience a greater relative impact both in terms of GDP and total personal income from public pension benefit dollars than rural or metropolitan counties.
  • Rural counties experience more of an impact in terms of personal income than metropolitan counties, whereas metropolitan counties experience more of an impact in terms of GDP than rural counties.
  • Counties with state capitals are outliers from other metropolitan counties, likely because there is a greater density of public employees in these counties, most of whom remain in these counties in retirement.
  • On average, rural counties have lost population while small town counties and metropolitan counties have gained population in the period between 2000 and 2018, but the connection between population change and the relative impact of public pension benefit dollars is weak.