ICYMI: U.S. Department of Labor Acts to Help American Workers and Employers During the Coronavirus Pandemic
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor took a range of actions to aid American workers and employers as our nation combats the coronavirus pandemic.
Reopening America’s Economy:
- Statement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia On President Trump’s Proclamation – “From his first days in office, one of President Trump’s top priorities has been protecting and supporting American workers and their families. [The] Presidential Proclamation will help ensure that the millions of Americans who are unemployed due to the coronavirus are first in line to fill job openings.”
- U.S. Secretary of Labor Scalia Highlights American Economic Recovery In Dallas, Texas – Secretary Eugene Scalia traveled to Dallas, Texas where he joined the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce for a roundtable discussion with local business leaders on safely reopening the economy. He also visited American Leather to meet with both employees and company leadership about the nationwide economic recovery.
- Secretary Scalia Participates in the Joint National Council for the American Worker and American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting – Secretary Scalia joined President Trump, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, and private sector leaders for the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board at the White House. The President signed an Executive Order prioritizing skills rather than degrees in federal hiring.
Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA and CDC Issue Interim Guidance To Protect Seafood Processing Industry Workers – OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have released joint coronavirus-related interim guidance for employers and workers performing seafood processing operations in onshore facilities and aboard vessels offshore. The guidance includes recommended actions employers can take to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave and Wages Earned:
- U.S. Department Of Labor Announces Online Tool to Help Workers Determine Eligibility for Paid Sick Leave Due to Coronavirus – The U.S. Department of Labor launched an interactive online tool to help workers determine if they qualify for paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave to cover time away from work for reasons related to the coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Offers Webinar on Coronavirus-Related Paid Sick Leave Requirements for Business Owners, Employers, and Other Stakeholders – The Wage and Hour Division office in Kansas City, Kansas, is joining with the IRS and the U.S. Small Business Administration to present a webinar to review paid sick leave requirements, tax relief, and other coronavirus-related information critical for employers and business owners on June 30, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Child Labor; Paid Sick And Expanded Family and Medical Leave Amid School and Camp Closures – With school and summer activity schedules greatly altered as America continues to re-open in the wake of the coronavirus, the Wage and Hour Division issued two Field Assistance Bulletins to clarify issues relevant to the pandemic’s effects on the workplace. The bulletins issued specifically address the following:
- The assessment of when schools that are physically closed for coronavirus-related reasons are considered “in session” for purposes of federal child labor requirements
- Paid sick or expanded family and medical leave eligibility under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) based on the closure of summer camps, summer enrichment programs, or other summer programs
- Delivery Contractor Pays Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave To Employee Ordered to Self-Quarantine – After an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, a delivery service contractor has paid $800 in back wages to an employee for wrongly denying paid sick leave for a qualifying reason under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provisions of the FFCRA. FFCRA allows employees to take paid leave when advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine or while seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Non-Dairy Product Manufacturer Pays Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave to Worker Caring for Children With Closed School – An employee of a farm received $5,402 in back wages after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the employer wrongfully denied paid sick leave benefits. The employee requested leave to stay at home caring for children whose school closed due to the coronavirus. The employee’s spouse is a first responder unable to care for their child with the school closed.
- Franchisee Pays Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave To Worker with Children at Home When School Closed During Coronavirus – A resolution by the Wage and Hour Division has led a franchisee to pay $595 in back wages to an employee who missed work to remain home to care for her children due to the lack of childcare during the coronavirus. When informed, the managers agreed to fully comply and pay the two weeks of leave and 10 weeks of future leave to the employee, a single mother of two working the graveyard shift.
- Grocery Store to Pay Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave to Worker Whose Children’s School Closed Due to Coronavirus – After an investigation, the Wage and Hour Division found a grocery store location failed to provide paid sick leave benefits to an employee forced to stay at home to care for children whose school closed due to the coronavirus. The employer agreed to pay the required benefits.
- Consulting Service Pays Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave Connected to Coronavirus – After an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, a consulting service has paid an employee $1,600 in back wages after having failed to provide the employee paid sick leave for work time missed due to testing positive for the coronavirus. Failure to provide sick leave resulted in a violation of the EPSLA provisions of the FFCRA.
- Franchise Pays Employee Back Wages After Wrongly Denying Paid Leave Due to Coronavirus-Related School Closure – After an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, a franchise has paid an employee $573 in back wages for wrongly denying the worker’s request for paid leave to care for children due to school closures related to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Delivery Contractor Pays Back Wages After Wrongly Denying Paid Sick Leave to Employee Ordered to Quarantine – Wage and Hour Division investigators found that an employer failed to pay an employee paid sick leave despite a healthcare provider’s order for the employee to self-quarantine for two weeks. The FFCRA allows employees to take leave when advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine or while experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. The employer cooperated fully with investigators and, once it understood its responsibility under the new law, agreed to pay the employee’s full wages for the days quarantined.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor is focused on protecting the safety and health of American workers, assisting our state partners as they deliver traditional unemployment and expanded unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, ensuring Americans know their rights to new paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, providing guidance and assistance to employers, and carrying out the mission of the Department.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.