The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued revised regulations on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA’s) paid-sick-leave and paid-family-leave provisions, clarifying when leave is available and when employees must seek approval to take leave.
The revisions follow a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that invalidated portions of the DOL’s April 1 temporary rule. According to the agency, the revisions, which take effect immediately upon publication in The Federal Register on Sept. 16, do the following:
- Reaffirm that employees may take FFCRA leave only when work is actually available to them.
- Reaffirm that employees must have their employer’s approval to take intermittent FFCRA leave.
- Revise the definition of “health care provider” to include “only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations or who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventative services, treatment services or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care which, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care.”
- Clarify that employees must provide employers with documentation as soon as possible supporting their need for FFCRA leave.
- Correct an inconsistency on when employees may be required to provide employers notice of their need to take expanded family and medical leave.
The revisions also address the district court’s order by providing additional explanations for certain requirements.
FFCRA’s Paid-Leave Options
FFCRA has two major provisions: the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). Under the EPSLA, employers with fewer than 500 employees and some public employers must pay sick leave of up to 80 hours, or roughly 10 days, to employees who need to take leave for certain coronavirus-related reasons. Employees may be eligible for an additional 10 weeks of family leave paid at two-thirds of their regular wages under the EFMLEA to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of COVID-19. The FFCRA does not have requirements for private-sector employers with 500 or more employees.
DOL Provides Clarity on FFCRA Child Care Leave
Working parents are facing myriad challenges as children resume their studies in alternative formats due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. In what situations are employees eligible for child-care-related leave or unemployment benefits? The DOL tackled some frequently asked questions in its most recent guidance. Notably, the department said employees are not eligible for FFCRA leave or unemployment benefits if they made the choice to keep their children home.
Local Laws May Provide Additional Leave
Employers and workers alike should check state and local laws for additional leave eligibility and requirements.