On July 20, 2020 the U.S. Department of Labor released new guidance on workplace laws in relation to COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is formatted in questions and answers that have already been published. These Q&As apply to the FMLA, FLSA, and FFCRA in workplace situations involving COVID-19. Here are some common questions and their answers:

Can an employer force employees to work remotely to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Yes, employers can make employees work from home to prevent infection. However, employers can’t single out individuals to keep on site or teleworking in a way that violates EEO laws. 

Do employers have to pay employees the same if they’re working remotely?

Mostly, yes. If the employee is working remotely as a reasonable accommodation or if it’s required by a union or employment contract then you have to pay full salary/hourly rate. If an employee has none of those things, then you only need to pay them for hours worked with standard rules for overtime.

Are home offices held to OSHA standards are regulations?

No. OSHA doesn’t have regulation for home offices and will not inspect home offices and employers aren’t liable for employees’ home offices.

Do employers have to pay employees for unauthorized remote work hours?

Yes. Whether or not you authorized an employee to work, you have to pay the employee for all hours worked remotely.

Can employees use FMLA leave to keep themselves from getting COVID-19?

No. FMLA only applies to employees who are already ill or who need to take care of family members.

If an employee starts to show COVID-19 symptoms, can an employer send them home?

Yes, as long as it isn’t discriminatory.

Can employers require employees with COVID-19 to be symptom-free for an amount of time, provide a doctor’s note, or have a medical exam before they can come back to work?

Yes, employers can if they let employees know before-hand what they need to return to work.

There are many new situations and requirements to be thoughtful of as our world changes. For more of the Q&As click for FLSAFMLA, or FFCRA Q&As. If you need additional help, contact Helpside at humanresources@helpside.com.