Association Gives Important Legislative Updates Relating to COVID-19

September 28th, 2020 by Tara Taffera

Officials for the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) say their organization is working hard to stay on top of changes surrounding COVID-19, many of them legislative related and including revised regulations on everything from paid leave to the possibility of future relief.

The association reported that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued revised regulations to the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Effective September 16, revisions instated by the new rule clarify workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities. 

The revisions include the following, according to the association:

  • Reaffirms that paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave may be taken only if the employee has work from which to take leave. It clarifies that this requirement applies to all qualifying reasons to take paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave;

  • Reaffirms and provides additional explanation for the requirement that an employee have employer approval to take FFCRA leave intermittently;

  • Revises the definition of “healthcare provider” to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations or who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventative services, treatment services or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care which, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care;

  • Clarifies that employees must provide required documentation supporting their need for FFCRA leave to their employers “as soon as practicable,” rather than “prior to” taking paid sick or family leave; and

  • Clarifies that advanced notice of expanded family and medical leave is required “as soon as practicable.” If the need for leave is foreseeable, that will generally mean providing notice before taking leave. For example, if an employee learns on Monday morning before work that his or her child’s school will close on Tuesday due to COVID-19 related reasons, the employee must notify his or her employer as soon as practicable (likely on Monday at work). If the need for expanded family and medical leave was not foreseeable—for instance, if that employee learns of the school’s closure on Tuesday after reporting for work—the employee may begin to take leave without giving prior notice but must still give notice as soon as practicable, according to the association.

According to the association, the House Problem Solvers Caucus, comprised of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, introduced a bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in an attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations on a final stimulus bill. The proposal, titled “March to Common Ground,” addresses several areas of COVID-19 relief, including testing, supplemental unemployment insurance, direct stimulus, worker and liability protection, small business loan funding, and state and local aid, the NLBMDA points out.

President Trump indicated he supports many of the provisions within the “March to Common Ground” framework, NLBMDA officials say, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she does not believe the package includes enough relief money. “It remains to be seen whether the proposal will receive broad support in Congress,” says the association in a legislative alert to its members.

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