As the January 1, 2021, effective date of Maine’s Earned Paid Employee Leave Law approaches, the state Department of Labor (DOL) has promulgated the much-anticipated final regulations for implementing the statute.

Under the law, private employers with at least 10 employees in Maine must provide employees one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave per year, for any reason.

As is often the case, the DOL’s regulations answer some questions, but leave others unaddressed.

Read our article.

California employers with as few as five employees must provide family and medical leave rights to their employees under a new law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 17, 2020. The new law significantly expands the state’s existing family and medical leave entitlements and goes into effect on January 1, 2021.

Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383) also expands the covered reasons for protected leave and the family members whom employees may take leave to care for under the law.

Read the full article on Jackson Lewis Publications Page.

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) has issued final regulations related to the COVID-19 Job Protection Act signed into law on March 20, 2020.

The law generally protects employees from adverse actions when they take or request time off at the written or electronic recommendation of a medical professional licensed in New Jersey, because they have or are likely to have an infectious disease that may infect others in the workplace. Read our article here.

Last month a New York federal court left health care providers in a lurch, when it vacated the Department of Labor’s definition of who could be exempted as a health care provider from the FFCRA leave obligations. Thankfully, the DOL has stepped back in to provide further clarity on this issue, providing revisions and clarifications to its FFCRA Temporary Rule. For more information about the revisions, click here.

The FFCRA which requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave and expanded FMLA to its employees provides an exception for health care providers. Under the revised rule, the DOL explains that the health care providers that an employer can elect not to cover under the FFCRA include:

  1. Doctors of medicine or osteopathy who are authorized to practice medicine or surgery (as appropriate) by the State in which the doctor practices;
  2. Podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, and chiropractors authorized to practice in the State and performing within the scope of their practice as defined under State law;
  3. Nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, clinical social workers and physician assistants who are authorized to practice under State law and who are performing within the scope of their practice as defined under State law;
  4. Christian Science Practitioners listed with the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts;
  5. Any other employee who is capable of providing health care services, meaning he or she is employed to provide:
    • diagnostic services (taking or processing samples, performing or assisting in the performance of x-rays or other diagnostic tests or procedures, and interpreting test or procedure results);
    • preventive services (screenings, check-ups, and counseling to prevent illnesses, disease, or other health problems);
    • treatment services (performing surgery or other invasive or physical interventions, prescribing medication, providing or administering prescribed medication, physical therapy, and providing or assisting in breathing treatments);
    • or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care and, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care (bathing, dressing, hand feeding, taking vital signs, setting up medical equipment for procedures, and transporting patients and samples).

The revised rule further explains that the types of employees falling under this last category include only:

A.  Nurses, nurse assistants, medical technicians, and any other persons who directly provide services described in 5 above;

B.  Employees providing services described in 5 above under the supervision, order, or direction of, or providing direct   assistance to, a person described in numbers 1-4 above or A above; and

C.  Employees who are otherwise integrated into and necessary to the provision of health care services, such as laboratory technicians who process test results necessary to diagnoses and treatment.

The DOL further clarified that employees who do not provide health care services as described above are not health care providers even if their services could affect the provision of health care services, such as IT professionals, building maintenance staff, human resources personnel, cooks, food services workers, records managers, consultants, and billers.

The revised Rule recognizes that individuals who fall under this health care provider exemption may work, among other places, at a doctor’s office, hospital, health care center, clinic, medical school, local health department or agency, nursing facility, retirement facility, nursing home, home health care provider, any facility that performs laboratory or medical testing, pharmacy, or any similar permanent or temporary institution, facility, location, or site where medical services are provided. But the DOL explained that an employee does not need to work at one of these facilities to be a health care provider, and working at one of these facilities does not necessarily mean an employee is a health care provider.

The DOL’s revised Rule provides welcome relief and clarity to employers. Although it is not immune to further legal challenge, the DOL appears to have addressed the issues raised by the New York court. Employers are nonetheless wise to seek legal counsel with respect to how the various FFCRA requirements might apply in an individual circumstance.

Contact your Jackson Lewis attorney for assistance in developing an approach that helps minimize the risk for your organization.

The Department of Labor has issued revisions and clarifications to its FFCRA Temporary Rule in response to the New York federal court’s decision vacating some of the provisions of the earlier version of the Rule.

Summary of Revisions.

In its revised rule and clarifications, the DOL:

  • reaffirms that the emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under FFCRA may be taken only if the employee has work from which to take leave. (The temporary rule also clarifies that this requirement applies to all qualifying reasons to take paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave.)
  • reaffirms that an employee must obtain the employer’s approval to take emergency paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave intermittently, but explains the difference between intermittent and additional requests for leave.
  • revises the definition of “health care provider” to mean employees who are health care providers under 29 CFR 825.102 and 825.125 and other employees who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventive services, treatment services, or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care and, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care. See our separate post about this.
  • revises § 826.100 to clarify that the information the employee must give the employer to support the need for leave should be provided to the employer as soon as practicable.
  • revises § 826.90 to clarify that notice of expanded family and medical leave must be provided as soon as practicable.

Leave is only available if a qualifying reason was the but for cause of the employee’s inability to work.

The DOL took issue with the reasoning of the district court and reaffirmed that all leave under the FFCRA is only available if the employer has work available for the employee. In other words, an employee may take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave only to the extent that a qualifying reason for such leave is a but-for cause of his or her inability to work. The DOL explained that “if there is no work for an individual to perform due to circumstances other than a qualifying reason for leave – perhaps the employer closed the worksite (temporarily or permanently) – that qualifying reason could not be a but-for cause of the employee’s inability to work.” In support of its position, the Department stated that it “sees no textual basis or other persuasive reason to deviate from the standard meanings” of the terms “because” and “due to” which were used in the statute. It further stated that the term “leave” “is most simply and clearly understood as an authorized absence from work; if an employee is not expected or required to work, he or she is not taking leave.”

DOL clarifies when leave is intermittent and must be approved by the employer.

While the Department reaffirmed that intermittent leave could only be taken with the approval of the employer, it also explained the difference between intermittent leave and consecutive requests for leave. According to the DOL, “the employer-approval condition would not apply to employees who take FFCRA leave in full-day increments to care for their children whose schools are operating on an alternate day (or other hybrid-attendance) basis because such leave would not be intermittent. In an alternate day or other hybrid-attendance schedule implemented due to COVID-19, the school is physically closed with respect to certain students on particular days as determined and directed by the school, not the employee.” Each day of school closure constitutes a separate reason for FFCRA leave that ends when the school opens again for the particular student. “The employee may take leave due to a school closure until that qualifying reason ends (i.e., the school opened the next day), and then take leave again when a new qualifying reason arises (i.e., school closes again the day after that).” However, if the school is closed for some period, and the employee wishes to take leave only for certain portions of that period for reasons other than the school’s in-person instruction schedule, this would constitute a request for intermittent leave that would require his or her employer’s agreement.

The DOL’s revised Rule provides welcome relief and clarity to employers. Although it is not immune to further legal challenge, the DOL appears to have addressed the issues raised by the New York court. Employers are nonetheless wise to seek legal counsel with respect to how the various FFCRA requirements might apply in an individual circumstance.

Contact your Jackson Lewis attorney for assistance in developing an approach that helps minimize the risk for your organization.

On September 9, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1867 (“AB 1867”) which has three new laws combined into one bill. The bill covers supplemental sick leave requirements, a pilot mediation program for small employers, and mandated hand washing requirements for food workers.

Read the full article on the Jackson Lewis California Workplace Law Blog.

As safe in-person voting became an issue in other states, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order requiring each county’s election officials to send vote-by-mail ballots to registered voters for the November election. The Governor also issued an executive order requiring counties to provide early polling locations for at least three days prior to election day. In light of these initiatives to ensure wide availability of voting options in California, employers may question if they still are required to provide time during the workday for their employees to vote?

Under California Election Code § 14000, employers must provide two hours of paid time for employees to vote, if the employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote in a statewide election. This requirement applies to private and public employers in the state. While this year there are expanded opportunities for voting, employers must still provide leave as needed by employees pursuant to the California Election Code. There is no exception under the Code due to the availability of mail-in ballot or early voting options.

In order to take leave to vote, employees must request the time at least two working days’ notice prior to the time off for voting desired.

According to the California Election Code, employers must also post a notice of voting time requirements at least 10 days before an election conspicuously at the place of work, if practicable, or elsewhere where it can be seen as employees come or go to their place of work. Employers can satisfy this requirement by posting a copy of the “Time Off to Vote” notice which is found on the Secretary of State’s website.  Employers that are largely telecommuting due to COVID-19 may consider alternate methods of communication, such as providing notice to remote employees via email or through their company intranet.

If you need assistance ensuring compliance with local or federal laws pertaining to elections and voting, including time off requirements contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.

For many, the start of school looks different this year: from all virtual, to hybrid, to parent’s choice.  Employers required to provide leave under the Federal Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA”) may be wondering how to administer FFCRA leave under this new regime.

Not to be out-classed, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new FAQs regarding use of FFCRA leave in these new school opening arrangements and clarified when FFCRA leave is not available.

The new FAQs – numbers 98, 99, and 100, respectively, provide guidance. Specifically:

  • An employee may take FFCRA leave on a child’s remote learning days in a hybrid learning method: Some schools are using a “hybrid” or “alternate day” attendance method.  Generally, this is when a school is open every day, but students are only on-site some days and remote learning on other days.  According to the DOL, an employee is eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on days when the employee’s child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning.  The DOL clarifies that this leave can be taken as long as the employee is actually caring for the child during that time and only if no other suitable person is available to do so.
  • FFCRA leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance, but the employee chose a remote learning option for the child:  Some schools provided parents with a choice between having their child attend school in-person or participate in a remote learning program.  If a remote learning program was chosen, FFCRA leave is not available because the school is not “closed” due to COVID-19 reasons.  Rather, the child is home because the employee chose to have the child remain home. However, the DOL provides the caveat that if, because of COVID-19, an employee’s child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine, the employee may be eligible to take paid leave to care for the child.
  • If the school year is beginning solely under a remote learning program due to COVID-19 concerns, employees may take FFCRA leave:  An employee may take paid FFCRA leave while the child’s school remains closed and only remote learning is available, because the school is closed in this scenario.  However, if the school reopens, whether FFCRA leave is available will depend on the type of reopening, as discussed above.

The full DOL FFCRA FAQs can be found here.  The DOL periodically updates these FAQs, so this link should be checked often.

 

For guidance on leave management issues, please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney. Register here if you would like to receive information about our workthruIT® Leave & Accommodation Suite. The Leave & Accommodation Suite provides subscribers an expanding array of tools to manage leave and accommodation issues, including electronic access to a state and local leave law database that is developed and updated continually by our Disability, Leave & Health Management attorneys.

Under the Washington COVID-19 Food Production Workers Paid Leave Program, no food production employer in Washington may operate from August 18, 2020, to November 13, 2020, unless the employer provides its workers with paid leave for certain qualifying events.

The Program was created by Governor Jay Inslee under Proclamation 20-67.

Read the full article here. 

Read about a similar leave created in California on Jackson Lewis California Workplace Law Blog