When no one is working, no one needs to get paid leave.

But as the workforce starts returning, smaller businesses — particularly those will less than 50 employees — are starting to feel the impact of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

That law created two new paid leave provisions — the EPSLA and FMLA+.  I’ve covered both here. 

The problem — which many of us predicted — is that a lot of these smaller businesses have never had to implement leave provisions before. Never mind that these are also paid leave provisions; it’s just detail upon detail.

One recurring question: What documentation can an employer seek from an employee that says that they need leave? In many instances,  the employee is requesting leave to stay home to take care of a child.

The DOL has a FAQ that answers this very question and it depends on the reason for the leave.

Overall, when requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, employers can ask employees to provide the following information either orally or in writing:

  • Employee’s name;
  • The date(s) for which the employee requests leave;
  • The reason for leave; and
  • A statement that the employee is unable to work because of the above reason.

If the leave is because the employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or to care for an individual subject to such an order, the employee should additionally provide the name of the government entity that issued the order.

If the leave is to self-quarantine based on the advice of a health care provider or to care for an individual who is self-quarantining based on such advice, the employee should additionally provide the name of the health care provider who gave advice.

If the leave is to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, the employee must also provide:

  • The name of the child;
  • The name of the school, place of care, or child care provider that has closed or become unavailable; and
  • A statement that no other suitable person is available to care for the child.

There is a limited small business exception that may apply to some so employers that are having trouble complying with the law due to financial reasons should seek legal advice to help navigate that exception.

Otherwise, employers should make sure to familiarize themselves with these provisions which remain in effect through the end of 2020.