U.S. Department of Labor issues guidance supporting workplace flexibilities through virtual communication

Jan. 10, 2021

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently issued a new guidance in its ongoing efforts to support the American workforce through the pandemic recovery. As employers continue to meet the challenges presented to their businesses by the coronavirus (COVID-19), and as telework arrangements and virtual communication increasingly provide solutions, the agency is providing additional guidance to maximize the benefits of these arrangements for employers and workers alike.

The guidance comes in the form of two new Field Assistance Bulletins (FABs):

  • FAB 2020-7 addresses when, as a matter of enforcement policy, WHD will consider electronic posting by employers by email or an internet or intranet website to satisfy the employer’s requirement to provide employees with required notice of their statutory rights under a variety of federal labor laws.
  • FAB 2020-8 addresses when WHD will consider telemedicine an “in-person” visit for the purposes of establishing a serious health condition qualifying for protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

“The guidance issued today reflects our ongoing commitment to provide the workforce critical information about flexibilities that allow employers and employees to better navigate the uncharted waters brought on by the coronavirus’ effects on the workplace,” said Cheryl Stanton, WHD administrator.

“These bulletins provide the workforce an opportunity to leverage the power of electronic communication while preserving the rights of all parties. WHD is proving that maintaining social distance need not distance workers nor employers from their rights, and that expanding flexibilities is key to the workforce’s continued recovery and growth as we emerge from this pandemic, and beyond,” Stanton said.

WHD continues to provide updated information on its website and through extensive outreach efforts to ensure that workers and employers have the information they need about the benefits and protections provided by the laws the agency enforces. WHD also provides additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to the coronavirus and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and on job-protected leave under the FMLA at dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

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