In addition to the voluntary extension of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s paid leave provisions, which we discussed in our December 22, 2020 E-lert, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (the Act), included in the massive (5593 page) stimulus bill signed into law on December 27, 2020, expands or extends relief benefits under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, discussed in our March 27, 2020 and March 30, 2020 E-lerts. Specifically, the Act clarifies the tax treatment of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, permits second PPP loans to certain borrowers, expands eligibility for first PPP loans, adds to the list of forgivable expenses; expands the employee retention credit, and extends enhanced unemployment benefits.

Continue Reading Beyond Voluntary Paid Leave: What Are the Other Employment-Related Provisions of the Coronavirus Relief Act?

The paid sick leave and family leave mandates under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) end on December 31, 2020; however, the stimulus bill passed by Congress on December 22, 2020 permits employers to voluntarily provide those paid leave benefits, and receive the corresponding tax credit, through March 31, 2021. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Back in March, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the FFCRA, which, among other things, imposed two leave mandates on employers with fewer than 500 employees: (1) a two-week emergency paid sick leave (“EPSL”) mandate for employees who are unable to work or telework due to six specific COVID-19-related reasons; and (2) a temporary expansion of coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), to enable employees to take their twelve weeks of FMLA leave for school and child care closures associated with COVID-19 (EFMLA), including a ten-week paid leave component. Significantly, employers are reimbursed for the cost of the leave(s) through a tax credit.


Continue Reading Employers May Voluntarily Extend FFCRA Paid Leave Benefits and Receive a Tax Credit – Through March 31, 2021

As distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine begins, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has modified its What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws resource to address the impact of federal non-discrimination laws on an employer’s vaccine requirements. Of particular interest, the EEOC makes the following points with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act:

Notably, the EEOC emphasizes that federal antidiscrimination laws do not interfere with or prevent employers from following guidelines and suggestions from the CDC or other governmental public health authoritiesThe EEOC also refers employers to the FDA’s website for more information on the Emergency Use Authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, which differs from the normal approval process.


Continue Reading EEOC Provides COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance

With the COVID-19 vaccine finally becoming a reality, healthcare employers, who were first to receive the vaccine for distribution to their workforce, are addressing questions of how to implement vaccination programs. Other employers are thinking about these issues as well, in preparation for the time when vaccines are more widely available. Below, we have addressed many common, and some not so common, questions about vaccines in the workplace.

Continue Reading Vaccines in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers

With apologies to William Shakespeare, these past couple of weeks have been rather confusing, with two of the major federal agencies leading the battle against COVID-19 – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – issuing somewhat, well, inconsistent guidance on the use of cloth face coverings or masks.

For many months now, the CDC has told us that cloth masks help to control the spread of COVID-19 by providing a barrier to help prevent the wearer’s respiratory droplets from reaching others – but that the masks did not protect the wearer. And because such cloth masks had no protective function, OSHA naturally declared that they were not personal protective equipment (PPE), which is significant because there may be OSHA-mandated employer obligations relating to the use of PPE in the workplace (e,g. fit testing, training, documentation, etc.).


Continue Reading Cloth Masks: PPE or Not PPE? That Is the Question

On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its recommended quarantine period for those individuals who were in close contact with a person with COVID-19. The revised guidance, while still ideally recommending a 14-day quarantine period, now permits exposed individuals to end quarantine after 7 days with a negative test (collected within 48 hours of the final day of quarantine), or 10 days without a test. This development will allow employers to bring exposed employees back into the workplace much faster than before.

Continue Reading The CDC Decreased The COVID-19 Quarantine Period: What This Means for Employers

It’s that time of year when many folks look forward to seeing family members near and far. In the context of the pandemic, however, the CDC and many state and local officials are recommending that folks avoid travel and gatherings with those outside of the immediate household.  Given the workplace impact of employees’ holiday travel – with possible infections, exposures, and quarantines – employers are wondering whether they can prohibit employees from traveling during the holidays. And the answer, of course: It’s complicated.

Continue Reading It’s The Holiday Season – Can Employers Restrict Personal Travel?

OK, I’m a bit of a nerd about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and its regulations. And I would expect the Department of Labor to be the same. After all, they wrote the regulations! But I feel like they might have missed the boat a bit with their recent revisions to the Final Rule implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Continue Reading Does the DOL Really Know Its Own FMLA Regulations?

Following last month’s federal court ruling that the U.S. Department of Labor had exceeded its authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in formulating certain regulatory provisions, the DOL has now issued a revised Final Rule, which becomes effective on September 16, 2020. These revisions do the following: (1) reaffirm the work-availability requirement, (2) reaffirm employer approval of intermittent leave, (3) modify the timing requirement for documentation, and (4) scale back the broad exemption for health care providers. Employers nationwide will need to make adjustments to their FFCRA procedures in accordance with the revised Final Rule.

Continue Reading DOL Revises FFCRA Final Rule: What This Means for Covered Employers