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September 28, 2020

U.S. Labor Department Issues New COVID Leave Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a new administrative rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA is a federal law that provides two forms of COVID-19-related paid time off to employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

The new rule took effect on September 16, 2020.

As the law firm ReedSmith explains, the new rule:

  • Reaffirms that an employee may only take FFCRA leave if the employer has work available for the employee. If there is no work for the employee to perform due to reasons other than an FFCRA-qualifying reason for leave – such as a temporary or permanent worksite closure, or a furlough – then the employee is not entitled to FFCRA leave.
  • Reaffirms that employer approval is required for an employee to take intermittent FFCRA leave for qualifying reasons that do not exacerbate the risk of COVID-19 contagion, such as to care for a child whose school has closed.
  • Clarifies that FFCRA leave taken in full-day increments to care for children whose schools are operating on an alternate-day or hybrid-attendance basis is not considered intermittent leave. Instead, “Each day of school closure constitutes a separate reason for FFCRA leave that ends when the school opens the next day.”
  • Revises the FFCRA’s documentation requirement to provide that paperwork supporting the need for leave may be given “as soon as practicable” – as opposed to before the leave commences.

This rule will be in effect through December 31, 2020, when the FFCRA will expire.