COVID-19 Update: Provisions to FMLA Take Effect April 1, 2020

March 25, 2020

The United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) published its first guidelines related to the paid sick leave and expanded FMLA leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Families First Act”).

Most importantly, the DOL has indicated that these provisions will take effect on April 1, 2020. This is a practical response as it coincides with the beginning of a calendar quarter for employment reports. This creates a bright line for employers seeking the tax credits that will offset any payments made to employees under either of the paid leave or expanded FMLA provisions.

Included in the documents are a Fact Sheet for Employers, a similar Fact Sheet for Employees, and a FAQ.

The DOL has clarified that the paid leave provisions only provide for a maximum of 12 weeks of leave. Many reports were issued that individuals who needed leave to care for others or to care for children whose schools had closed were entitled to up to 14 weeks of paid leave. This guidance clarifies that paid leave for child care at two-thirds of the wage rate up to $200 per day starts with the two weeks under the paid leave provision, and then continues for weeks 3-12 under the expanded FMLA.

In one of the most underreported provisions of the Families First Act, the law provides that employers with fewer than 50 employees may be able to apply for exemptions in the event that paying for this leave will jeopardize the viability of a business. No information on the exemption was provided. The DOL has not given any indication of how employers should apply for this exemption or what information is needed to support an application.

At the time of this update, the DOL has not provided the required posters or notice for employers to share with employees.

If there are any questions, please reach out to your Rothberg attorney.

Theodore T. Storer, Partner



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