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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Gleason

10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Our business and home environments are changing rapidly. It can be overwhelming to respond to the many changes at work and at home. What I know from experience working in quickly growing businesses is that you can be proactive or reactive. Sometimes being reactive is unavoidable when responding to emergencies. However, we have been in turmoil for a few weeks, and we are now able to proactively think a few days and or even a few weeks ahead as the amount of constant change and new directives begin to slow.

The President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act last week and these regulations are effective on April 2, 2020. While the HR community is waiting for the Department of Labor to issue additional guidelines to provide clarity around certain parts of the regulations, there are things you can do now to prepare. Remember to to leave yourself room to make adjustments to any policies or communications you send out. You can do this by indicating in any policy or communication that the policies may be revised as regulations are clarified, new ones developed and your business environment changes.

10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSL) and Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (E-FMLA)

  1. Notify employees you are reviewing the new regulations and preparing your policies. Ensure they understand you are getting this information at the same time they are and need time to review the new legislation.

  2. Reassure employees you will communicate with them as you have developments and updates. Provide them with a direct contact to get questions answered. Consider publishing an FAQ to answer common questions.

  3. Review your Attendance Policy. Consider reducing consequences due to COVID-19 related absences.

  4. Review your Paid Time Off Policies. Have a contingency plan for how employees may use or borrow PTO in the event of an absence prior to April 2 or in the event they don't qualify for leave.

  5. Review your benefits with your broker and seek guidance for options for employees to continue benefits if not working under certain conditions.

  6. Review your systems for electronic tracking of EPSL and E-FMLA. You likely will want earnings codes tied to these paid leaves. You will want to be able to track and report on paid leave time usage and wages.

  7. If you have a third party administrator for FMLA, ask how they are preparing to assist with administration of E-FMLA.

  8. Create a process for employees to easily request EPSL and E-FMLA and determine a response time so you can timely respond to such requests.

  9. Determine what type of documentation you may require (guidance is pending here, so use a common sense approach with consideration to our current environment of issues with access to care).

  10. Continue to monitor changes and clarifications in the regulations. Seek counsel and direction from knowledgeable resources.

Amanda Gleason is an Human Resources Compliance Consultant at People First HR, LLC. Connect with her to learn how she can help your small to medium sized business build compliant and effective programs that support and grow your organization and its people.

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