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July 27, 2020

U.S. Labor Department Issues New COVID-Related Guidance

On July 20, the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published new guidance for employers related to their obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Much of the new guidance relates to how companies should handle employees who are working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. As the law firm Kelley Drye explains, the WHD makes it clear that employment laws that apply to the office are equally applicable to employees working remotely. That means employers must:

  • Keep accurate wage and hour records for all employees, including for those participating in telework or other flexible work arrangements, and to pay at least one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek to non-exempt employees.
  • Keep set work hours, especially for non-exempt employees.
  • Be aware of the equipment costs incurred by employees who are teleworking.

Additionally, as Kelley Drye explains, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have any regulations regarding telework in home offices, employers who are required to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses must do so for injuries and illnesses occurring in a home office.

The WHD has published several COVID-19-related resources for employers, in addition to what the division released last week. These materials include a fact sheet for employees, a fact sheet for employers, and a questions and answers resource about paid sick and expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA.

WHD has also produced a guidance poster that fulfills notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees of their FFCRA rights. The division also has published questions and answers about posting requirements and a list of simple quick benefits tips to determine how much paid leave the FFCRA allows workers to take.