In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or “the Act”) went into effect on April 1, 2020 followed closely behind by the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule on the Act which, collectively, describe the obligations of employers as well as the rights of employees under the FFCRA’s paid sick time and expanded family medical leave provisions.
In response to a legal challenge to the FFCRA by the State of New York, on August 3, 2020, a judge out of the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”) issued a decision vacating certain provisions of the DOL’s regulations. The SDNY Court found the following:
- The FFCRA’s definition of “health care provider” is “overly broad” as it encompasses employees “whose [workplace] role bears no nexus whatsoever to the provision of healthcare services;”
- An employer’s ability to provide an employee work to complete may no longer be considered relevant in assessing eligibility for FFCRA leave;
- Under certain circumstances, an employee may take intermittent FFCRA leave without first obtaining employer approval;
- The FFCRA’s notice requirement — obligating an employee to submit notice of intent to take leave prior to actually taking it — is not practicable and therefore, in some instances, may be waived, allowing employees to submit notice after their leave begins.
While attacks on the legality of the FFCRA have been levied since its passage by Congress, this is the first official decision handed down by the judiciary. With that said, the SDNY decision is limited in scope as it applies only to that jurisdiction — leaving open the issue of how other courts, as well as the Department of Labor, will respond to the FFCRA challenges.
As questions, concerns and legal guidance continue to evolve with the changing times, it is essential for employers to stay informed. If you need assistance with any issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, please contract Jeffrey C. Miller (216.658.2323 | firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bryan Meek (330.253.5586 | email@example.com), or any member of the Labor and Employment Team of Brennan, Manna & Diamond LLC.