Updated on April 24, 2020.
For those of you who may not have heard, the Families First Act is now in effect. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website is full of frequently-asked-questions (FAQs) pages that are of use, but moments ago we received regulations. These regulations are very lengthy and complex. I strongly recommend that if you have any employees requesting this leave, you reach out to discuss the specifics.
As discussed previously, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Famlies First Act) requires employers to provide paid sick leave and expanded Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time. However, the act provided that the Secretary of Labor could exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees when the imposition of these requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business. In my earlier blog posts, I noted that lawyers were unable to identify the criteria for the exemption because the Department of Labor had not yet identified them. Notably, we anticipated regulations from the Department of Labor. However, as of this morning, we have informal “FAQ” guidance on the Department’s website that does give some clarity to the situation.
Most employers have questions about when to send employees exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms home, when to allow them back to work, and how to handle their return to work. Hospitals are no exception—and understanding when healthcare workers can and should return to work after a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illness is key to flattening the curve on the virus’ spread.
In a guidance document issued on its website, the IRS announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.