On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division posted temporary regulations for the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) to provide employers with guidance to administer these two new paid leave laws under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The rule became operational on April 1, 2020 and is set to expire on December 31, 2020.  The final rule (29 CFR § 826) officially published in the Federal Register today, April 6, 2020.

FFCRA, as amended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), authorizes the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations “as necessary, to carry out the purposes of this Act, including to ensure consistency” between the EPSLA and the EFMLEA. This blog attempts to highlight only some of these rules.  Other posts on the requirements of FFCRA, including DOL guidance to date, can be found at the McLane Middleton’s Coronavirus Resource page.

Continue Reading DOL Regulations Offer Employers Guidance For Implementing Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

As part of its ongoing effort to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued temporary regulations to implement emergency leave benefits established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  These implementing regulations (29 CFR § 826) are available from the DOL at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/Pandemic/FFCRA.pdf.

While the FFCRA greatly expands emergency leave, including emergency paid sick leave, benefits, employers may elect to exclude certain “health care providers” and “emergency responders” from these provisions of the FFCRA.  The following provides a brief summary of those employees who may be exempt.

Continue Reading DOL’s Implementing Regulations Shed Some Light On Defining “Health Care Provider” Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Throughout the past week, the USDOL has continued to update its guidance into how employers will be expected to manage the paid sick and paid family and medical leave benefits, which will become available to eligible workers as of April 1, 2020, the effective date of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”).

A model notice which employers can use to discharge their obligation to inform employees of their rights under the FFCRA is available here. No specific Certification or Designation Forms have been provided, so employers may create their own forms for the time being.

Continue Reading USDOL Provides Guidance Regarding Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family and Medical Leave Including Advice on Intermittent Leave and Availability of Benefits to Furloughed Employees

In light of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will go into effect on April 1, 2020, companies should consider implementing a new paid sick leave policy.   Below, for reference only, is a sample policy to consider.   Any new paid sick leave policy should be tailored to each particular workplace, and this policy is not intended to serve as, or to replace, legal advice on this important subject.

SAMPLE Emergency Paid Sick Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy:

In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, the recently-implemented federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) and our Company’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its employees and other members of the community, the Company has adopted this temporary Emergency Paid Sick Leave (“EPSL”) Policy (the “Policy”).  Under the Policy, employees may take a paid leave of absence, up to a maximum of two weeks of paid sick leave in addition to other paid leave provided by the Company to the employee, subject to the terms and conditions outlined below:

Continue Reading Sample Emergency Paid Sick Leave Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy

On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  This new federal law includes the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.  Updated guidance on the FFCRA is available from the U.S. Department of Labor at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

Q:  What paid leave benefits are required under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

A:  Paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave related to COVID-19.

Continue Reading Q&A – Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”.  This new federal law will provide employees with emergency paid family leave and paid sick leave related to COVID-19.

These paid leave laws apply to all employers with fewer than 500 employees. The laws take effect on April 1st and expire on December 31, 2020.  The Secretary of Labor is expected to issue guidelines to assist employers in complying with these new legal requirements in the coming weeks.

Continue Reading EMERGENCY PAID LEAVE RELATED TO COVID-19 SIGNED INTO LAW AND TAKES EFFECT APRIL 1, 2020

UPDATE: March 23, 2020

Governor Baker announced a statewide “Stay at Home” order, which will begin , March 24 at noon and last at least until April 7. All non-essential businesses will be ordered to cease operations for the same time period.

Click here to view COVID-19 Essential Services – Exhibit A of the order of the Governor

Executive Order: COVID-19 Order No. 13

 

On Friday, March 20, Governor Baker mentioned at a press conference that there are no plans to order a statewide lockdown, or issue a “shelter in place” mandate, as has been done in New York, Illinois, and California.

Should the situation change, and such an order is given, many businesses may have to close on a temporary basis. Certain businesses, however, may be considered “essential” and thus be allowed to remain operational during a statewide shutdown.

It is likely that Massachusetts would look to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency for guidance on what may constitute “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” as the Agency has assembled a comprehensive list of industries and businesses which it has defined as such.

The Agency has established a listing of such entities “to help State and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.” See Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid-19 Response, by Agency Director dated March 19, 2020.

The Agency has made it clear that state and local officials should use their judgment in determining which businesses should be allowed to continue operations during a statewide shutdown. The Guidance assembled by the Agency identifies several categories of  “essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and that need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.”

The Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce includes the following categories: healthcare workers; law enforcement; food and agriculture, including employees “engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agriculture production and distribution;” energy workers in the electricity, petroleum, and natural gas industries; workers needed to “operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure;” transportation workers for mass transit, vehicle repair workers and air transportation employees; IT workers; and critical manufacturing workers in the areas of medical supplies, food and agriculture, energy and communications among others. A full listing of the recommended essential workforce can be found at the following:

https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CISA-Guidance-on-Essential-Critical-Infrastructure-Workers-1-20-508c.pdf

  1. What is the difference between a furlough and a layoff or termination?

Furloughs are time off from work without pay, such as a temporary reduction in an employee’s days or hours of work.  Furloughs are different from layoffs or terminations.  During furloughs, workers remain employed and sometimes work a reduced schedule.  Layoffs or terminations involve a separation from employment.

Continue Reading Furlough FAQs

On March 18, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  issued new guidance regarding the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on employers’ obligations not to discriminate against and to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.  The guidance states that, while employers must continue to comply with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, those laws do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention or state or local authorities relating to COVID-19.

Continue Reading EEOC Issues New Guidance for Employers on Compliance With the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act During the COVID-19 Pandemic

UPDATE: FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RELIEF ACT BECOMES LAW

The Senate on Wednesday March 18, 2020 passed the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act in a 90-8 vote.  The bill was quickly signed into law by the President.  The Act provides emergency relief in the form of paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave to employees impacted by COVID-19.  There are also provisions for ensuring that Coronavirus testing is available at no cost, for expanded food and benefit programs, and to provide funding to stabilize and expand unemployment benefits.  For more information on the bill read hereMore guidance will be provided on the details of the law and how it will impact employers and employees as we work to stay abreast of developments in these extraordinary times.