We have previously written about the US Department of Labor issuing a Question & Answers webpage, and subsequently updated it, to address numerous issues arising out of the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). (Click here, here and here.) On April 6, 2020, the DOL again updated the “Questions and Answers” webpage, adding 9 new questions and answers (##80-88) that largely clarify prior guidance from the Department. Here is a summary of the issues addressed by the DOL’s fourth update to the Q&A page:

For Employers:

  • Clarifying the manner for calculating the number of hours of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave due an employee who works irregular hours. (##80-81)
  • Providing a detailed explanation as to how to compute an employee’s average rate of pay for purposes of FFCRA, including those employees on a fixed salary each workweek. (##82-83)
  • Allowing employers to use rounding when computing the number of hours of sick leave due provided that employers do so consistently among all employees and in accordance with typical time increments (i.e. if employer general uses quarter-hour increments, employer may use quarter-hour increments for purposes of rounding here). (#84).
  • Stating that an employer must only use one six-month period of time (calculated from when the employee first takes FFCRA leave) for determining the regular rate of pay rather than doing a six-month calculation each time an employee takes FFCRA leave if it is intermittent. (#85)
  • Explaining the interplay between paid sick leave under the FFCRA with employer-provided leave plans, specifically whether an employer can require an employee to take employer-provided leave before taking FFCRA leave. (#86)

For Employees:

  • Clarifies that a “shelter in place” or “stay home” order from an federal, state or local agencies qualifies as a quarantine or isolation order for purposes of FFCRA leave, provided the employer has work for the employee and the “shelter in place” or “stay home” order prevents the employee from performing the work, either in person or via telework. (#87)
  • Explains that an employee is entitled to the full amount of unpaid leave due to them under the FFCRA, instead of just the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, if the Department is required to bring an enforcement action on their behalf against their employer for violating the FFCRA. (#88)

California employers should continue to monitor our blog for future updates concerning the FFCRA and other employment developments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also advise employers to seek legal advice to determine whether the FFCRA applies to their business, and if so, what steps to take to ensure compliance.