The Secretary of Labor recently issued temporary regulations under 29 CFR Part 826 regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The new regulations further explain the FFCRA including “The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act”, which entitles certain employees to take up to two weeks of paid sick leave, and “The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act”, which permits certain employees to take up to twelve weeks of expanded family and medical leave, ten of which are paid, for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Below are the highlights of the new regulations, which answer some of the most frequently asked questions:
Full-Time Versus Part-Time:
- A full-time employee is an employee who works at least 80 hours over two workweeks, or at least 40 hours each workweek.
- A “part-time employee” is an employee who is normally scheduled to work fewer than 40 hours each workweek or—if the employee lacks a normal weekly schedule—who is scheduled to work, on average, fewer than 40 hours each workweek.
- A part-time employee whose weekly work schedule varies should be entitled to paid sick leave equal to 14 times the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled to work per calendar day over the 6-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes paid sick leave, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type. Different rules apply for employees who have been working part-time less than 6 months.
- Intermittent leave is only available if both the employer and employee agree.
- Employees who continue to report to an employer’s worksite may only take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave intermittently and in any increment— subject to the employer and employee’s agreement—in circumstances where there is a minimal risk that the employee will spread COVID-19 to other employees at an employer’s worksite.
- Employees who report to an employer’s worksite are prohibited from taking paid sick leave intermittently, notwithstanding any agreement between the employer and employee to the contrary, if the leave is taken because the employee:
- Is subject to a government-imposed quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is taking leave to obtain a medical diagnosis;
- Is caring for an individual who either is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
- Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Health Care Providers and Emergency Responders:
- The definition of “health care provider” includes any individual who is capable of providing health care services necessary to combat the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Such individuals include not only medical professionals, but also other workers who are needed to keep hospitals and similar health care facilities well supplied and operational.
- They further include, for example, workers who are involved in research, development, and production of equipment, drugs, vaccines, and other items needed to combat the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- The definition of “emergency responder” includes those employees who:
- interact with and aid individuals with physical or mental health issues, including those who are or may be suffering from COVID19;
- ensure the welfare and safety of our communities and of our Nation;
- have specialized training relevant to emergency response; and
- provide essential services relevant to the American people’s health and wellbeing. The definition allows for the highest official of a state or territory to identify other categories of emergency responders, as necessary.
Stay tuned for further information about the finalized DOL Regulations. Feel free to reach out to email@example.com with any COVID-19 related questions or issues.