The U.S. Department of Labor has released the first of periodic guidance to help employers and employees understand their obligations and protections under phase II of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will take effect April 1.
Among other provisions, phase II will require most employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide 12 weeks of protected leave to eligible employees who are unable to work because their child’s school or place of care is closed or their child care provider is unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a public health emergency. Employees who are unable to telework are included in the provision.
The U.S. Secretary of Labor has the authority to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from providing that protected leave if the business demonstrates that the leave requirements would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.” The labor secretary can also exclude certain health care providers from the definition of eligible employees.
As of this writing, the Department of Labor has not determined the specific criteria that those small businesses would need to meet in order to take advantage of the exemption, but is expected to do so before the new requirement, which amends the Family Medical Leave Act, takes effect April 1. The emergency amendment is set to expire Dec. 31. CDA will communicate the criteria to dentists when they become available.
The new DOL guidance includes a fact sheet for employers, a fact sheet for employees and a Q&A. The employer fact sheet details the requirements of the act, qualifying reasons for leave, duration and pay calculation of leave, penalties and enforcement and tax credits.
Tax credits for employers
Employers that are required to comply with the emergency leave will qualify for a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid to an employee who takes leave under the act for a qualifying reason, up to the appropriate per diem and aggregate payment caps. THE DOL guidance states that applicable tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage.
New poster for placement in dental office
A poster published by the labor department detailing employees’ rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is also now available. Each covered employer must post a notice of the act’s requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. Or, an employer can satisfy the posting requirement by emailing or direct mailing the notice to employees or posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website. The downloadable poster covers paid-leave entitlements, employee eligibility, qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19 and enforcement.
CDA will update members as soon as the Department of Labor publishes the criteria that small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will need to meet to qualify for the exemption as well as potential exemptions for certain health care personnel, which may include dental staff. Watch the newsroom and cda.org/covid19 for updates.
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