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DOL Issues Q&A Guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Late on March 26, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new guidance answering many but not all of the questions that businesses have regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). Some of the key takeaways pertaining to emergency paid sick leave (“EPSL”) and expanded family and medical leave (“EFMLEA”) are as follows:

  • Documentation (Question 15). The DOL makes it clear that employers must require its employees to provide it with appropriate documentation supporting the reason for any leave requested under the Act, including the employee’s name, qualifying reason for requesting leave, statement that the employee is unable to work, including telework, for that reason, and the date(s) for which leave is requested. Additionally, per the DOL, documentation for the reason for the leave will be necessary and should be maintained for any tax credit sought by the employer.
  • Effect of Furloughs or Layoffs on FFCRA. (Questions 25-26). The DOL has now clarified that employees are not eligible for EFMLEA or EPSL during furloughs, shut-downs, or temporary layoffs. This is true regardless of if the layoffs occur- prior to April 1 or thereafter. Even if a business closes while the employee is on leave, the employer is only obligated to pay for any leave used before the business closed.
  • Clarification of the Impact on Stay At Home Orders (Question 27). Our best information is that Ohio’s Stay at Home Order (as well as similar orders from other states) does not constitute a “local quarantine or isolation order” sufficient to qualify an employee for EPSL under the FFCRA. Additionally, the guidance makes clear that if an employer’s worksite is only temporarily closed but is expected to reopen in the future, the employee is not eligible for emergency paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave.
  • Small Business Exemption (Question 4). The answer to the question about how to elect the small business exemption for childcare related sick leave and EFMLEA for businesses with less than 50 employees remains one of the expressly unanswered questions in the current guidance. The DOL simply states that employers should document the reason why they believe they are entitled to the exemption and await forthcoming regulations.

The full set of Questions and Answers from the DOL can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

Should you have additional questions, regarding the application of the FFCRA to your business, please feel free to contact the Labor and Employment Lawyers at Coolidge Wall.

Contributing Attorneys:

Marc Fleischauer
Ben Mazer

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. 

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