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Families First Coronavirus Response Act Effective Date and Additional Guidance from the U.S. Dept. of Labor

On March 24, 2020 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published additional guidance related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act). The new guidance and accompanying FAQ included information that the Act's effective date will be Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Under the Act, the DOL was required to set an effective date no later than 15 days following the date of enactment, which occurred on March 18.

A 30-day non-enforcement period to enable employers to comply with the Act was announced by the DOL, Treasury Department and the IRS on March 20. During this time, employers must continue to act reasonably and in good faith to comply with the Act. Conflicting materials issued by the DOL have made it unclear whether the DOL's 30-day period of non-enforcement will begin on April 1 or start on March 18.

Another section of the new guidance appears to conflict with the March 20 joint announcement stating that employers could immediately begin taking advantage of the tax credits under the Act. The U.S. DOL FAQ states that paid sick time provided before April 1 for a qualifying purpose does not count against the employee's leave entitlement under the Act. The position of the IRS regarding the status of tax credits it had previously announced were immediately available on March 20 is unknown. Varnum has reached out to agency contacts in an effort to clarify the confusion created by conflicting documents and will continue to update as more information becomes available.

The new guidance also addresses how to count employees toward the Act's 500-employee threshold. The leave provisions of the Act only apply to private employers with fewer than 500 employees, and the guidance clarifies that temporary employees, employees on leave and employees of joint or integrated employers should be counted toward the 500-employee threshold. Please contact any member of Varnum's labor and employment team with questions about how these rules apply to your specific situation.

On March 25, the DOL also made available a poster that will fulfill the Act's notice requirement. A notice for federal employees is also available. Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may also satisfy this requirement by mailing the notice to employees or posting the notice on the employer's internal or external website. The notice only needs to be given to current employees and does not need to be shared with recently laid-off individuals.

More guidance from the DOL is anticipated in the coming days, and the DOL will be developing more formal regulations that address these and other questions. 

© 2021 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 86



About this Author

David E. Khorey, Labor Employment Attorney, Varnum, Workplace Confidentiality Matters Lawyer

Dave’s “client-centered” practice involves a variety of labor and employment issues. He provides practical and confidential ongoing advice and consulting on a number of sensitive and complex labor and employment matters, from problem employee situations to multi-facility collective bargaining negotiations. His representative clients include diverse industries (such as automotive, printing, transportation and hospitals) throughout the nation.  

Dave has also served as chair of the firm.

Honors & Recognitions...

Maureen Rouse-Ayoub Labor Employment Attorney

Maureen represents clients in all areas of labor and employment. She advises clients on labor management relations including union election proceedings, collective bargaining and contract enforcement in arbitration and before the National Labor Relations Board. Maureen defends employment-related claims including discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Whistleblowers' and Fair Labor Standards Act violations in federal and state courts, administrative proceedings and arbitration hearings. She counsels clients on drafting, implementation and enforcement of workplace policies....

Stephanie R. Setterington, labor and employment attorney, Varnum

Stephanie advises employers on a wide variety of labor and employment matters, with an emphasis on employment litigation defense, and the identification and development of best practices in the area of human resources. She has worked extensively as labor and employment counsel for publicly-traded and privately-held companies that vary from single-site businesses to multi-state or global entities. She works with each client to ensure compliance with labor and employment-related legal requirements, develop effective human resource operations, and achieve the successful...

Elizabeth Wells Skaggs, labor and employment attorney, Varnum

Beth is a partner in the labor and employment practice group, focusing employment issues and litigation. She has counseled business clients on a variety of matters affecting the workplace, including effective employee handbooks and policies, disciplinary and dispute resolution procedures, discrimination issues, disability accommodation, wage-hour matters, family medical leave, harassment prevention and litigation avoidance.  When litigation is unavoidable, Beth has significant experience representing employers under the numerous state and federal statutes that govern the...

Ashleigh E. Draft Associate Grand Rapids Labor & Employment

Ashleigh is an associate attorney currently working with the labor and employment group. She also works with higher education clients and provides support on a variety of litigation matters.

Ashleigh’s experience includes serving as a legal extern for the Michigan Court of Appeals Research Division. She also clerked for Michigan Appeals Court Judge Jane Beckering. Prior to law school, Ashleigh served organizations in the higher education and nonprofit sectors in various development and communications roles.