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Quarantine Pay & Leave: 10 Federal Updates

Quarantine Pay & Leave

Will I have to return to work, even if my children are doing virtual school from home? I’m having a hard time separating work life from home life while teleworking and—whoops—put in extra hours. Can you pay me overtime for that work? Don’t I deserve hazard pay if I’m forced to go into work right now? 

Employers are getting fresh new questions as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. That’s why additional federal guidance was issued in July and August regarding hazard and overtime pay as well as family leave, particularly to care for children not yet back in school. The guidance affects several areas, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Each one of these areas includes a FAQ page on their websites with dozens of updates.

Some of the latest updated guidance include:

  1. How to determine hours of compensated work when an employee is teleworking, and whether you need to compensate an employee for regular or overtime work they elected to perform without your prior knowledge. Answer here
  2. How to work out compensation when temporarily giving teleworking employees extended lunch hours and breaks (to help their kids with virtual classroom time, for example). Answer here
  3. Whether you can ask an exempt salaried employee to perform non-exempt duties related to COVID-19 (administering workplace temperature checks and being responsible for cleaning protocols, for instance) without changing their exempt status. Answer here
  4. Whether hazard pay is required for employees working during the pandemic. Answer here
  5. When a salary reduction can jeopardize an employee’s exempt status. Answer here
  6. Whether a virtual telemedicine doctor visit counts as an in-person visit to establish a serious health condition under FMLA. Answer here
  7. COVID-19 testing and whether all employees out on FMLA leave can be asked to test before returning to work. Answer here
  8. How being furloughed affects family and medical leave (will the amount taken before being furloughed count against time for an employee who returns?). Answer here
  9. Whether an employee’s furlough can be extended solely because they would otherwise need FFCRA leave to care for a child whose school/daycare is closed. Answer here
  10. How school hybrid models or opting-in models affect FFCRA leave for a parent when a school is technically open but children aren’t required to attend in person yet. Answer here

Be sure to keep an eye on the FAQ for these three areas, as the guidance is expected to keep rolling in. States and local jurisdictions may have their own unique guidelines as well. For the most part, Texas uses federal guidelines in these instances. However, if you haven’t already signed up for Texas-specific COVID-19 updates from the Texas Workforce Commission, you can do so here.

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