COVID-19: DOL Reminds Employers of Their Duties Under the FMLA, ADA and FLSA

COVID-19 Update

Date: March 16, 2020

In addition to guidance given to employers by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division (WHD) issued several reminders to employers regarding their duties under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, addressing topics such as:

  • Circumstances in which FMLA coverage and protection would be available for employees who have contracted COVID-19 or who are caring for family members that have contracted COVID-19;
  • Whether employees can use FMLA leave to avoid exposure to COVID-19. Even if they cannot, be attuned to potential ADA obligations;
  • Use of paid sick leave when available;
  • Revising paid sick leave policies to address work shortages or financial issues;
  • Preventing abuse of leave;
  • Whether employers can require employees who are out sick with COVID-19 to provide a doctor’s note, submit to a medical exam, or perform a self-quarantine;
  • The use of “volunteers” or temporary employees in the event a business has a shortage of workers;
  • Whether employers can require salaried, exempt employees to take vacation or unpaid leave during an office closure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic without impacting the employees’ exempt status;
  • Use of teleworking and FLSA-related issues; and
  • An employer’s FLSA-related obligations to employees under government-imposed quarantine.

More information is available on the WHD’s website:

Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. That declaration reflects the spread of the disease, not its severity. However, it is a first step toward allowing employers greater flexibility in monitoring employees for symptoms of COVID-19. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance states that when a pandemic is declared by WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, employers in areas of widespread outbreak may take additional measures, such as taking employees’ temperatures, in order to reduce the spread of the disease in the workplace.


For more information, please contact:

Deborah S. Brenneman

Megan S. Glowacki

Anthony P. McNamara

or any a member of our Labor & Employment group.


We have assembled a firmwide multidisciplinary task force to address clients’ business and legal concerns and needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see our COVID?19 Task Force web page for additional information and resources.

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