Last week, we discussed the signing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law, as well as the revisions it underwent as it went through the legislative process. On March 24 and 26, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first two rounds of published guidance concerning the FFCRA.
The goal of the guidance was to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the FFCRA when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.
Helping to Stop COVID-19 with Paid Leave
The FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for their own health needs or to care for family members.
The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while simultaneously reimbursing businesses.
The guidance—provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers, and a Questions and Answers document—addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count its employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.
“Providing information to the American workforce is a top priority for the Wage and Hour Division,” says Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “With so many workers and so many employers struggling to find their way in these trying conditions, providing guidance on a rolling basis will allow workers and businesses to prepare for the law to go into effect on April 1, 2020. We remain committed, and are working around the clock to provide the information and tools for employees and employers alike.”
Two new posters have been released—one for federal workers and one for all other employees—that will fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law. The WHD also released questions and answers about posting requirements, and a Field Assistance Bulletin describing WHD’s 30-day nonenforcement policy.
The new guidance addresses critical issues such as whether employers may post required notice electronically, whether employers must provide notice of this law to recently laid-off individuals, when FFCRA applies to federal workers and when enforcement of the new rules will begin.
More Guidance to Come
The WHD will provide additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19 and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act here.
“The Wage and Hour Division continues to prioritize providing this vital information to workers and employers so that both are fully prepared to maximize the benefits available to them as quickly as possible when this law goes into effect on April 1, 2020,” Stanton adds. “These critical protections will provide a lifeline to untold numbers of struggling families, and to countless employers trying to balance their business needs with the needs of their workers, their communities and their own families.”
For more information about the laws enforced by the WHD, call 866-4US-WAGE, or visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.
For further information about COVID-19, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Staying Abreast of the Uncertainty
Our legal editors and content teams understand that this situation is evolving rapidly, with new employer needs arising urgently. Everyone has questions about what this all means and how to interact with and make use of new laws and guidance. We are all dedicated to getting you the latest actionable information and guidance as quickly as possible. For our latest coverage, visit our coronavirus media center.