Department of Labor COVID-19 Issues Guidance on Wage-Related Employment Problems

In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance to help employers deal with related wage and overtime issues that organizations may soon face if they haven’t already. To help employers comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, the DOL offers the following advice:

Layoffs and Terminations

If you choose to layoff or terminate employees in the face of economic impact, be mindful of your state’s wage payment laws, some of which may require immediate payment of all wages, including fringe benefits.

Hours Worked & Hours Paid

Federal labor law does not require the employer to pay non-exempt employees for time spent not working. Employers are only required to compensate employees for actual hours worked. But be aware, enactment of the Revised Families First Coronavirus Response Act will provide for certain paid leave benefits.  For exempt employees, the rules for payment of wages are more complex. It’s essential to contact an attorney before implementing pay reduction policies.

Quarantined Employees

The DOL advises employers to accommodate and be flexible with workers affected by government- or employer-imposed quarantines. Employers are encouraged to offer alternative work arrangements, such as working from home and providing additional paid time off opportunities.

Changing Job Descriptions

Federal labor law does not limit the type of work employees over the age of 18 may be required to perform, regardless of what the employee’s job description may say. If you believe employees may be required to perform tasks not normally associated with their work, work closely with human resources and consult your union contract before implementing any changes.


If your business experiences a shortage of workers and is looking to volunteer help, be aware that covered, non-exempt workers working for private, for-profit employers have to be paid at least the minimum wage and cannot truly “volunteer” their services.

OSHA Standards and Teleworking

OSHA does not regulate “telework” in home offices. However, for employers required to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses, they must keep such records related to home office injuries and illnesses. Additionally, an employee having to stay away from work because of contracting COVID-19 may qualify for workers’ compensation if the employee’s job requires contact with individuals with the disease.

Speak with Kreis Enderle’s Employment Attorneys

If you are concerned about how to comply with state and federal wage and overtime laws as the COVID-19 outbreak spreads, the employment lawyers at Kreis Enderle stand ready to assist and counsel you through these unprecedented times. Please contact us today.

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