Labor ends temporary nonenforcement of paid leave protections

Washington — The U.S. Department of Labor announced April 20 that it is ending the temporary period of nonenforcement of paid leave protections under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which became law March 18, requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for “specified reasons related to COVID-19.” The provisions are in effect from April 1 until Dec. 31 of this year and apply to certain public and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.

According to the agency, employers with fewer than 50 employees, including dental practices, are exempt from this provision if they document that they meet one or more of the following requirements:

• The leave would cause the small employer’s expenses and financial obligations to exceed available business revenue and “cause the small employer to cease operating at a minimal capacity.”

• The absence of the employee or employees would pose a “substantial risk to the financial health or operational capacity” of the small employer because of their “specialized skills, knowledge of the business or responsibilities.”

• The small employer cannot find enough other workers who are “able, willing and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services the employer or employees requesting leave provide, and these labor or services are needed for the employer to operate at a minimal capacity.”

“With millions of Americans eligible for new and expanded leave programs, the U.S. Department of Labor is working tirelessly to answer the public’s questions and conduct outreach to groups and individuals so that employers nationwide provide employees with the benefits they need,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton in a news release.

To resolve issues that have arisen with providing Families First Coronavirus Response Act-required leave, the Wage and Hour Division said it has “explained employers’ obligations and has assisted employers with getting money into the hands of workers.”

The Wage and Hour Division offers the following resources to help employers and employees understand the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s requirements:

• A Q&A on the law.
• Fact sheets for employers and employees in English and Spanish.
• Required workplace poster for employers.
• A webinar on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

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