COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act Questions and Answers

COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act Questions and Answers

If you are out with COVID-19 or are caring for ill family members, check with the Department of  Labor (DOL) for information on whether such leave is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under the FMLA, covered employers must provide employees job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons. Employees on FMLA leave are entitled to the  continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms as existed before they took FMLA leave. (See the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division or call 1-866-487-9243 for additional information on the FMLA.)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required covered employers to provide eligible employees  with paid sick and expanded family and medical leave for certain COVID-19 related reasons. The requirement that employers provide paid sick or expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA employer mandate provisions applies to leave taken or requested during the effective period of April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.  Please see Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers for questions specific to the application  of the FFCRA mandate.  Employers who choose to provide such leave between January 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021 may be eligible for employer tax credits.  Information about claiming the tax credits for paid sick leave or paid family leave wages can be found on the IRS website at: (https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-19-related-tax-credits-for-paid-leave-provided-by-small-and-midsize-businesses-faqs).

Additionally, certain state or local laws may have different requirements, which    employers must also consider when determining their obligation to provide paid sick leave. See the State Labor Offices for information about leave laws in your state.

  1. Who can take FMLA leave?

  2. What benefits are available under the FMLA?

  3. Can an employee who is sick with COVID-19, or who is caring for a family member who is sick with COVID-19, take FMLA leave?

  4. Can an employee stay home under FMLA leave to avoid getting COVID-19?

  5. I was not paid for COVID-19 related leave in 2020. Do I still have rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

  6. Can parents or other care givers take time off from work to care for a child whose school is closed or whose care provider is no longer available due to COVID-19 reasons?

  7. Is an employer required by law to provide paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work because they have COVID-19, have been exposed to a family member with COVID-19, or are caring for a family member with COVID-19?

  8. May an employer require an employee who is out sick with COVID-19 to provide a doctor’s note, submit to a medical exam, or remain symptom-free for a specified amount of time before returning to work?

  9. May my employer require me to submit a doctor’s note to use FMLA leave if I am sick and unable to work because of COVID-19?

  10. Are there protections that apply if an employer temporarily closes his or her place of business because of a pandemic and chooses to lay off some but not all employees?

  11. I am unable to work because I need to take care of sick family members. Can my employer terminate or lay me off for this reason?

  12. I am unable to work because I have COVID-19. Can my employer terminate or lay me off for this reason?

  13. Due to safety and health concerns related to COVID-19, many health care providers are treating patients for a variety of conditions, including those unrelated to COVID-19, via telemedicine. Telemedicine involves face-to-face examinations or treatment of patients by remote video conference via computers or mobile devices. Under these circumstances, will a telemedicine visit count as an in-person visit to establish a serious health condition under the FMLA?

  14. I was out on FMLA leave unrelated to COVID-19. While I was out, my company implemented a new policy requiring everyone to take a COVID-19 test before they come to the office. Under the FMLA, can my employer require me to get a COVID-19 test under this policy?