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DOL releases Q&A regarding Families First Coronavirus Response Act

published in McAfee & Taft LINC | March 24, 2020

On Tuesday afternoon, March 24, the U.S. Department of Labor issued Questions & Answers regarding  the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Notably, the DOL clarified that the leave requirements under the Act become effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. The leave requirements under the Act do not apply retroactively.

The DOL will be issuing implementing regulations in the near future that will provide guidance to employers on the requirements of the Act. In addition, the DOL stated that it will continue to provide compliance assistance to employers on their responsibilities under the Act.

The Act applies to certain public employers regardless of size and to private businesses with fewer than 500 employees at the time an employee’s leave is to be taken. Businesses will count all full-time and part-time employees, in addition to including employees on leave and certain temporary employees. Corporations are considered separate employers for purposes of the Act unless they are “joint employers” under the FLSA. For purposes of Emergency Family and Medical Leave, two or more entities are separate employers unless they meet the DOL’s “integrated employer” test.

The DOL will address the “small business exemption” to the Act (businesses with fewer than 50 employees) in forthcoming regulations. However, the DOL stated that employers seeking the small business exemption should not send any materials to the DOL when seeking the exemption.

Employees are only entitled to up to two weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave. Employees who satisfy multiple qualifying reasons for the leave are capped at 80 hours under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.

Employees who are home with my child because his or her school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable are eligible to utilize both Emergency FMLA and Emergency Paid Sick Leave. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides for an initial two weeks of paid leave. This period thus covers the first 10 workdays of Emergency FMLA, which are otherwise unpaid under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act unless the employee elects to use existing vacation, personal, or medical or sick leave under an employer’s existing policy.

Our COVID-19 Response Team is here to assist you. If you have questions about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, please do not hesitate to contact us.  To subscribe to future COVID-19 Response communications and alerts, click here.