DOL Wage and Hour Division Issues COVID-19 Guidance for Employers and Employees
The Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has published coronavirus-related guidance for employers and employees (COVID-19 and the American Workplace). The agency wants to ensure that all parties understand and comply with federal labor laws during this challenging time. Below, our West Palm Beach employment law attorneys highlight three key clarifications issued by the federal regulators.
- Overtime Pay Rules Will Be Strictly Enforced
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused tremendous disruption in the labor market. While many businesses and organizations have been temporarily closed—resulting in an immense number of layoffs and furloughs—other industries are busier than ever before. For example, workers in grocery, medical supplies, shipping, delivery, warehouses, and others are often being asked to put in overtime hours. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division emphasizes that overtime pay rules will be strictly enforced throughout the crisis. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees must be compensated at time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours per week. Overtime pay violations will be enforced.
- Temporary Rule: Paid Sick Leave Under FFCRA
In March, Congress passed and President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law. Employers covered by the law must provide workers with paid sick leave. As it is drafted, the FFCRA provides eligible workers with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. The emergency sick leave should not come out of an employee’s already accrued benefits. Employers covered by the law will receive a tax credit to offset the costs of paying workers who get sick. As the FFCRA is new (temporary) legislation, employers or employees with questions are encouraged to consult with an experienced employment law attorney.
- An Employee May Be Eligible for Family Leave under the FMLA
Finally, the Department of Labor wants to remind employers that workers may be eligible to take job-protected family leave to deal with a coronavirus-related matter. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees can take unpaid leave to deal with qualifying family or medical emergencies. The DOL notes that employees may be permitted to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave to help care for a sick family member.
However, the FMLA does not provide guaranteed job-protected leave for a non-illness-related childcare issue. As schools and daycares have been disrupted, employers are encouraged to implement policies to help support their workers. Employers that have their own family leave policies must apply them fairly across workers. Still, federal law does not mandate childcare leave.
Call Our South Florida Wage and Hour Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida employment law attorneys are skilled, results-focused advocates for clients. If you have questions about wage and hour rights during the coronavirus outbreak, we are here to help. Call us now for a confidential consultation. We represent clients throughout the region, including in Miami, West Palm Beach, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter, and Palm Beach Gardens.