Due to the crisis surrounding the Coronavirus and Covid-19, millions of Americans have been forced to grapple with less than ideal working conditions such as reductions in pay, requests by employers to “volunteer” for a period of time, the loss of overtime pay or the loss of employment altogether. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides numerous protections for workers, including the following:
If your employer has asked you to “volunteer” to help out as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, you may want to consider the FLSA’s stringent requirements with respect to the use of volunteers. In general, workers protected under the FLSA that are working for private, for-profit employers must be paid at least the minimum wage and cannot be expected to volunteer their services.
If you have been laid off and have not received your last paycheck, immediate payment may be required by state law (although it is not required by federal law). If your regular payday has passed without payment, you may be entitled to compensation under federal and/or state law.
How many hours is an employer obligated to pay an hourly-paid employee who works a partial week because the employer’s business closed? The FLSA generally applies to hours actually worked. It does not require employers who are unable to provide work to non-exempt employees to pay them for hours the employees would have otherwise worked.
What are an employer’s obligations to an employee who is under government-imposed quarantine? The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) encourages employers to be accommodating and flexible with workers impacted by government-imposed quarantines. Employers may offer alternative work arrangements, such as teleworking, and additional paid time off to such employees.
May an employer encourage or require employees to telework (i.e., work from an alternative location such as home) as an infection control strategy? Yes. An employer may encourage or require employees to telework as an infection-control or prevention strategy, including based on timely information from public health authorities about pandemics, public health emergencies, or other similar conditions. Telework also may be a reasonable accommodation.
Of course, employers must not single out employees either to telework or to continue reporting to the workplace on a basis prohibited by any of the EEO laws. (See the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s publication, Work at Home/Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation, for additional information.)
Do employers have to pay employees their same hourly rate or salary if they work at home? Under the FLSA employers generally have to pay employees only for the hours they actually work, whether at home or at the employer’s office. However, the FLSA requires employers to pay non-exempt workers at least the minimum wage for all hours worked, and at least time and one half the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. Salaried exempt employees generally must receive their full salary in any week in which they perform any work, subject to certain very limited exceptions.
For additional information, contact the DuBose Law Firm, PLLC, at (214) 389-8199.