- The U.S. Department of Labor will promote the availability of COVID-19 paid sick and family leave in a series of television, radio and social media public service announcements, the agency announced Sept. 14.
- The announcements will be in English and Spanish and aim to raise awareness and inform workers and employers of their rights under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA), encouraging anyone with questions or concerns to contact the department. "The public information effort has already reached millions, and we remain confident that as the effort continues we will reach many millions more," said Cheryl Stanton, administrator of DOL’s Wage and Hour Division. "Getting this critical information to workers and employers when they need it most remains a top priority."
- The radio spots already have reached more than 12 million listeners, WHD said, while the television ads will begin airing this fall.
Employers may not necessarily see an uptick in employee interest around FFCRA leave as a result of this campaign, Sarah Platt, a shareholder at law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., told HR Dive via email. "[C]overed employers have had required notices up informing employees of their rights under the law since April, and employees have been using the leave," she said.
"Word of mouth is probably the most effective way to inform people of the leave rights, and that has been happening for several months now. So, I do not necessarily expect a significant increase in requests."
Still, Platt recommends employers create an infrastructure to manage leave requests.
"This might include a written policy and a request form to gather the information called for under the law and the IRS guidance on documentation to substantiate an employer’s claim for a tax credit," she said. "Employers may also want to train front line managers on employees’ rights under the law and how to recognize a request for leave that might be covered under the law."
Lastly, Platt recommended employers consider back-up plans for a scenario where many employees take leave. Attorneys previously told HR Dive that employers should consider flexible options beyond what they are required to provide to meet employee needs.
Notably, DOL recently said leave is not available to those whose schools are available for in-person learning, according to an August 27 announcement.
FFCRA cases have reached the courts as well. Earlier this year, a Kroger employee sued the grocery giant, alleging it failed to comply with the FFCRA and Family and Medical Leave Act.