COVID-19, Employee Benefits Compliance

New Guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act Leave Provisions

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The leave provisions are set to expire on December 31, 2020. The temporary rule is effective from April 1, 2020.

In this new temporary rule, the Department provides direction for administration of the:

  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)
    • 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who need to take leave from work for certain specified reasons related to COVID-19. These reasons may include the following:
      • the employee or someone the employee is caring for is subject to a government quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
      • the employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical attention; or,
      • the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)
    • Up to 10 weeks of paid, and 2 weeks unpaid, emergency family and medical leave to eligible employees if the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Summary of Employee Benefits- Related Guidance

As Leavitt Group Compliance has been stating, and now codified, treat benefits coverage the same as you would any leaves and according to the policies.

  • If on FMLA leave, employees are eligible to continue benefits on the same terms as they did as an active employee.
  • If premium contribution is required, it may still be required. Cancellation may be permitted for nonpayment. (For States with moratoriums on insured policy cancellations, contact your insurance carrier.)
  • If benefits changes during leave (open enrollment), an offer of coverage to those on leave must be made.
  • For employees who do not have enough paycheck to cover premiums, employers may recover through one of the approved ways listed here.

Employers are encouraged to read the final temporary rule below for full details. Also see the DOL slides on FFCRA below. Action has already been required on these provisions. Employers nervous about compliance in the great unknown of new regulations, should be patient. More guidance is coming! If there is a showing of good faith compliance, there is often times some leniency from regulators – provided those which these rules are intended to protect are indeed provided such protections.

Additional Information

Final Rule: Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Press Release: U.S. Department Of Labor Announces New Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Implementation

Webinar: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Webinar Slides (PDF)

For full information, see the DOL Wage & Hour Division Webpage.

Leavitt Group Compliance Covid-19 Resource Center. Here you will find other helpful Covid-19 related resources.

 

Leavitt Group Compliance is not a law firm, CPA or employment law specialist. If you have questions about these rules, please refer to your employment law specialist. This information is intended as educational only and not legal advice.

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