The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL WHD) has announced that they expect to publish Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) regulations in April 2020, but they did not specify the exact date in April. The DOL WHD’s announcement includes an expected date of March 25 to post a model employer notice of the FFCRA. For details and analysis on this new law, please refer to the recent FINEOS blog posts explaining the initial bill, subsequent revisions, and summary.
In the meantime, the DOL WHD has issued guidance to help employers and workers navigate common issues they may face when responding to COVID-19, including Employee Paid Leave Rights, Employer Paid Leave Requirements, and FAQ related to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) with regard to COVID-19.
Employee Paid Leave Rights & Employer Paid Leave Requirements
The law applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employers and certain public employers. The DOL WHD clarifies that most employees of the federal government are not covered by the FFCRA’s expanded family and medical leave provisions, but they are covered by the paid sick leave provision.
In addition, small business with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from providing leave due to school or childcare closure or unavailability if providing leave would jeopardize the business’s viability.
Guidance specifies that while all employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for COVID-19 related reasons, only employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.
If the need for leave is foreseeable, employers can require that an employee provide notice of leave as soon as practicable. In addition, after the first workday of paid sick time, employers can require that employees follow “reasonable” notice procedures to continue receiving paid sick leave.
Leave Reasons, Duration, and Pay
FAQ Related to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The DOL WHD’s COVID-19 FAQ page provides general information intended to help employers determine when employees affected by a pandemic might qualify for FMLA leave under the FMLA’s leave reasons of employee serious health condition or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. Note that while these FAQ provide detailed information regarding the FMLA prior to March 18, 2020, the answers do not consider the new FFCRA. Therefore, employers should refer to both the FAQ and guidance for specific direction.
Finally, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the DOL WHD has announced that they have temporarily transitioned to telephone or web contact only. In addition the information described above, the DOL has published an information page with several resources, including FAQs regarding COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), to further assist employers and employees navigate the workplace during this unprecedented time.
FINEOS continues to monitor federal, state, and local governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide updates as they are made available.