As if the coronavirus rules for paid leave and family leave weren’t already complicated enough, employers now have to figure out if they’re following the right ones.
A federal judge yesterday struck down several parts of the federal Department of Labor regulations stemming from leave requirements that were in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
“For the reasons that follow, the Court concludes that New York has standing to sue and that several features of the Final Rule are invalid. New York’s motion for summary judgment is therefore granted in substantial part…,” District Judge J. Paul Oetken ruled in his opinion.
Among the regulations struck down are the final rule’s work-availability requirement; its definition of “healthcare provider” for excluding certain healthcare sector employees from emergency leave benefits; its requirement that an employee secure employer consent for intermittent FFCRA leave; and its requirement that documentation be provided by an employee before taking FFCRA leave.
The ruling comes in response to a suit filed by New York State in April, but as Ryan Golden at HRDive.com reported, others have criticized the rules as well.
“Shortly before the lawsuit’s filing, Congressional Democrats criticized DOL’s final rule in a letter to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia that said the agency’s guidance either deviated from the FFCRA’s statute or did not have a basis in it,” Golden writes.
The ruling is likely to be appealed. Meanwhile, employers are going to be left scratching their heads when it comes to federal leave laws.
“The decision leaves employers to surmise the answers to important questions, such as what definition of healthcare provider should be used under the FFCRA, and whether employees on furlough or who otherwise do not have work available (regardless of whether the employee is unable to work due to a COVID-19 issue) are eligible for pay,” wrote Jackson Lewis attorneys Francis Alvarez and Patricia Anderson Pryor in a blog post on the topic.