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Labor & Employment News Alert

U.S. Department of Labor Issues First Guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

March 25, 2020

By: Grace E. Hurney, Lucero Tennis Kieffer, and Justin M. Harrison

On March 24, 2020, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor issued its first round of guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  According to the DOL, the guidance “addresses critical questions, 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 under this law.”  Unfortunately, this preliminary guidance does not address some of the toughest issues.  

Here are a few notable points:

  • Despite the language in the statute and consensus among legal observers that the effective date of the Act is April 2, 2020, the DOL instructs that the effective date is actually April 1, 2020.
  • The guidance lacks specifics as to how to claim the small employer exemption but suggests small employers document how their business might meet forthcoming criteria issued by the DOL.
  • The guidance does not address the health care provider or emergency responder exemptions.
  • Starting April 1, employers may not deny paid sick leave even if they voluntarily provided paid leave for a reason identified in the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act prior to the Act going into effect.


The guidance is “just the first round of information and compliance assistance to come from WHD.”  A model notice is expected to be released today, March 25 and additional fact sheets and more questions and answers will be released later this week. Hopefully, the DOL will address some of the unresolved issues with its next round of compliance assistance.

The Department of Labor’s guidance can be found at the following link: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20200324

As always, Jackson Kelly’s Labor and Employment Practice Group is available to answer questions related to all aspects of COVID-19’s impact on employers.


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