April 29, 2020

The Interplay of FMLA & COVID-19

Employers are spending a lot of time learning the twists and turns of practically applying the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA provides new Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA).

Simultaneously, employers want to remember that the good ‘ole fashioned Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is still at play!  I’ve come across this scenario a few times in the last several weeks. An employee calls out because the employee is sick with COVID-19 symptoms, has been advised to self-quarantine or isolate pending test results, and/or is caring for an immediate family member who is ill, possibly with COVID-19.  Those reasons do not qualify for the EFMLEA, but they could qualify for FMLA leave (or EPSL).

Remember these tips:

  1. Train your supervisors and managers on the FMLA basics. If an employee is absent for more than three consecutive days or out intermittently for the same chronic health condition, the absences might be covered under the FMLA.
  2.  Supervisors and managers need to contact HR or the company’s third-party administrator to ensure the FMLA Notice and appropriate certification form is sent to the employee within the required time frame (5 days).
  3. An employee does not have to expressly ask for FMLA leave. It is incumbent upon the employer to issue the notice when the employer should reasonably know the absence might be FMLA qualifying.
  4.  Understand how FMLA leave interacts with, overlaps and is separate from the new EFMLEA and EPSL.
  5.  The U.S. Department of Labor has provided some guidance in its Q & A.
  6.  Join FiveL’s May 27th webcast, “FMLA: What’s Old is New Again” as we review these and other common compliance challenges! $25 pp Pre-approved by HRCI and SHRM for 1.25 credits.