Changes to Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Leave Rules: Everything Employers Should Know

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A recent federal court decision on four federal Department of Labor (DOL) rules regarding leaves provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) were rejected leaning in favor of employees. However, there are still unclear specifications to the ruling, such as area for which it is applicable to (i.e., it was ruled in a New York court, so it may be applicable only to that region the court rules or it might be nationwide). Until further guidance is issued, employers are encouraged to err on the side of caution in administering FFCRA leaves and continue as if these four rules no longer apply.

Here’s what you need to know:

DOL Rule #1: For an employee to use emergency paid sick leave or emergency family medical leave, the employer was required to provide work for them during the requested leave. For example, if an employee was furloughed and needed to take emergency leave, the employee would not be eligible to use the leave.

The Court ruled that availability of work Is not required. If an employee is employed, regardless of status, they are still eligible to use FFCRA leave for qualified reasons.

DOL Rule #2: Employer approval is required for an employee to use intermittent leave to care for children whose school or care provider is unavailable as a result of COVID-19.

The Court ruled that the employer must allow employees whose children were displaced due to school or care provider unavailability as a result of COVID-19 to use intermittent leave if requested.

DOL Rule #3: Employers have discretion to mandate documentation before allowing an employee to take FFCRA leave or emergency leave.

The Court ruled that employers may continue mandated documentation for the leave requested, but cannot delay or deny an employee’s requested leave until documentation is provided.

DOL Rule #4: The definition of healthcare provider was broad with exemptions including any position within a healthcare entity and independent contractors.

The Court ruled that the definition was too broad. However, a new definition was not provided. Employers are encouraged to only exempt healthcare providers who directly provide healthcare services.

QBS will be monitoring these rules and any other legal activities impacting business owners for any updates. Our HR experts provide monthly legal HR updates to our clients. If you would like to learn more about our HR management services, please contact QBS today! We understand the importance of compliance and conduct our due diligence to ensure you maintain it.