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COVID-19 and the Workplace

by: Broderick C. Dunn

These are unprecedented times for both employers and employees. To provide some clarity, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division recently provided guidance on common workplace issues that employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19 and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and job protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").

Some highlights include:

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act ("FFCRA")'s paid leave provisions apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
  • Small Businesses (<50 employees) qualify for the small business exemption to the FFCRA if providing child-care related paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave would jeopardize the viability of the business. DOL will flesh out the criteria for the exemption in forthcoming regulations.
  • Under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, employers are required to pay an employee for hours the employee would have been normally scheduled to work even if that is more than 40 hours in a week.
  • Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, employers are not required to include overtime hours when calculating pay. Employees are to be given paid sick leave only up to 80 hours over a two week period.
  • Paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements are not retroactive.
  • OSHA regulations and standards do not apply to home offices used by teleworking employees.
  • As an infection control strategy, employers can require employees to telework.

Go to https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic for additional guidance and call us if you are an employer seeking help with compliance or an employee whose rights under FFCRA have been violated.

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