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U.S. Labor Department Issues FAQs on COVID-19 Pay Issues

    Client Alerts
  • March 16, 2020

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released a “Frequently Asked Questions” guidance on the impact of employer’s COVID-19 containment measures on pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The guidance does not contain any changes to the law, but it explains how steps such as home quarantines could impact payroll issues.

For non-exempt employees, employers can direct those possibly exposed to the virus to remain at home. If they do not work from home, the employer can require use of paid time off to cover missed working time. For salaried exempt employees, the employer could not deduct from the guaranteed salary if the employee works any hours during the workweek. As with non-exempt workers, the employer can require salaried employees to use paid time off.

If non-exempt employees work from home during a quarantine or office closure period, the employer must keep accurate records of time worked and pay overtime if that work exceeds 40 hours in a given workweek. DOL states that unless the employee is covered under a union agreement or other employment contract, the employer could change the rate of pay for telecommuting work.

DOL encourages employers to provide flexibility to incentivize sick employees not to come to work. Although not required under the FLSA or other laws, many employers are planning on offering additional paid sick leave to both encourage sick employees to stay home and to minimize economic hardships posed by their need to be away from work.

You can find Parker Poe's additional alerts related to the coronavirus pandemic here