Emergency Sick Leave Policy: Top 5 Measures to Defend Against a DOL Investigation

PilieroMazza PLLC
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PilieroMazza PLLC

Companies across the country are still struggling to understand and implement the emergency sick and family leave imposed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL), responsible for enforcing the provisions, initially provided a grace period to employers to come into compliance, but that time has passed and DOL is now investigating complaints of noncompliance. By way of example, Nicholas Security Commercial LLC, a Georgia-based home security company, was found liable to pay back wages after denying emergency paid sick leave to an employee who self-quarantined after receiving a coronavirus diagnosis.  This blog delves into the top 5 measures all employers should take now to shield your company from a DOL investigation and possible monetary penalties. 

The FFCRA applies to employers with less than 500 employees and provides tax credits to businesses to compensate them for providing the leave. We wrote about the FFCRA’s specific requirements in the spring (link).  However, the application of the FFCRA is not always simple, particularly when employers increasingly are faced with balancing the need to keep a workplace safe with the need to get their work done. As more employees learn of the benefit, the risk of a complaint to DOL increases.

Although you cannot always fend off a complaint to DOL, you can take proactive measures to defend against the complaint.

  1. Implement a policy that is compliant with current guidance.
  2. Ensure the required DOL Notice is posted and/or distributed.
  3. Keep records of all requests for FFCRA leave as well as approvals and denials.
  4. Ensure you are calculating the amount of leave available to each employee correctly.
  5. Take complaints seriously, double checking to ensure compliance.

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