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A Guide to Re-Opening and Protecting Against Liability in the Process

On Friday, May 8, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey surprised some of us with an early revision to her “safer at home” order, and surprised us somewhat less with an attempted effort to provide some liability protections for employers who re-open. We have reviewed the orders and have some suggestions for employers who choose to re-open.

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Documentation requirements for emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA leave

We shouldn’t expect that the Government to ever establish a program without requiring paperwork. So this post concerns exactly that: the paperwork or documentation required to comply with the requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Families First Act), as required by the temporary regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on April 1, 2020 and as modified on April 9, 2020.

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UPDATED: How does Alabama’s stay-at-home order impact Families First Act?

Updated on April 24, 2020.

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Regulations have been issued to implement Families First Act

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.

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Small-business exemptions of the Families First Act

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.

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