DOL Issues First Round of Guidance on Covid-19 Paid Leave
Today, the Department of Labor issued initial guidance for employers on the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The DOL states that further guidance will be issued later this week, including the model notice for covered employers to post. The initial guidance states that the FFCRA takes effect April 1, 2020, which means there is no requirement to start providing paid leave under the Act until April 1, 2020. Many employers have already begun providing the paid leave as a means of helping their employees now, rather than waiting for the technical effective date of the Act. The DOL guidance unfortunately does not address whether employers will get tax credit for paid leave they provide between March 18 (the date the FFCRA was signed into law) and March 31, 2020. However, a press release issued by the IRS and DOL last week stated that employers could “immediately” begin taking advantage of the tax credits provided under the Act, seemingly suggesting that paid leave provided between March 18-31 would qualify for the tax credits. Hopefully, further guidance from the DOL or IRS will provide a clear answer for employers.
Today’s initial DOL guidance addresses some important questions under the FFCRA, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to when they use the paid leave provided by the law. The new guidance is here and here. We will provide further updates as additional guidance is published this week.