On April 1, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued official regulations implementing the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The regulations are available here: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/Pandemic/FFCRA.pdf. The FFCRA is the new federal law that generally requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave and, in some cases, paid family leave to employees who cannot work due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. An overview of the FFCRA and guidance issued by the DOL can be found here: https://kahanafeld.com/newsroom/.
Of particular importance, the regulations clarify that a state or local shelter-at-home or shelter-in-place order qualifies as an “isolation” or “quarantine” order for purposes of the FFCRA’s emergency paid sick leave entitlements. (This clarification is contrary to much of the legal interpretations of the FFCRA that have been published to date.) The regulations also explain that employers who began complying with the FFCRA upon its enactment on March 18, 2020 and provided paid leave for FFCRA reasons between March 18 and March 31, 2020 (prior to the FFCRA’s effective date of April 1, 2020) will not get credit for those payments and will still have to provide eligible employees with another 10 days of paid sick leave in order to comply with the FFCRA. Accordingly, and unfortunately, some employers must now provide 160 hours of emergency paid sick leave at a time when their businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and shelter-at-home orders. The regulations cover many issues and details that cannot be addressed here (such as how to calculate the paid leave required by the FFCRA), so employers that are covered by the FFCRA are encouraged to review the regulations and contact their labor and employment counsel to ensure compliance.
We will provide further updates as additional guidance is published in the coming days and weeks.