Get it in Writing: Documentation of COVID-19-Related Leave and IRS Guidance

Since the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect on April 1, 2020, employees and employers alike have struggled with its initial implementation and requirements. This act provides Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA due to reasons related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released additional guidance on the documentation needed should an employee request COVID-19-related leave under the FFCRA.

Documenting Need for Leave

Employers may require employees to follow reasonable notice procedures when requesting leave. This includes providing notice on the first work day (or partial work day) on which they use paid sick leave. The DOL says an employee must provide a signed statement containing:

  • The employee’s name;
  • Requested leave date(s);
  • A qualifying reason for leave related to COVID-19; and,
  • A statement of why the employee can’t work or telework because of this reason.

Accompanying this statement, employees must provide the name of the government entity that issued the quarantine or isolation order. For those advised to self-isolate or self-quarantine,  employees must provide the name of a healthcare provider making the recommendation.

Employees seeking expanded family and medical leave due to school or child care closings or unavailability must provide:

  • The name of the child being cared for;
  • The name of the school, place of care or child care provider that is closed or now unavailable due to COVID-19 reasons; and,
  • A statement representing that that no other suitable person is available to care for the child for the period of leave requested.

Normal FMLA rules apply to an employee’s own serious health condition related to COVID-19 and to the need to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The DOL is currently assessing other aspects of FMLA that might influence the processing of COVID-19-related leave claims. Additional guidance will be forthcoming.

IRS Guidance Concerning COVID-19

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has weighed in alongside the DOL with guidance for employers claiming tax credits for qualified leave wages. According to the IRS, employers “must retain records and documentation related to and supporting each employee’s leave to substantiate the claims for the credits.” These materials include, but are not limited to:

  • Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return
  • Form 7200, Advance of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19
  • Any other applicable filings made to the IRS requesting the credit

Employers can also reference newly-released IRS guidance on COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses. This guidance outlines the information employers must maintain to be eligible for sick-leave or family-leave credits, which includes:

  • Employee-specific documentation of need for leave, including signed statements with employees’ names, dates for leave, reasons for leave and COVID-19-related reason behind the inability to work.
  • Documentation to show how the employer determined the amount of qualified sick- or family-leave wages paid to employees. This includes records of work, remote work, qualified sick leave and qualified family leave.
  • Documentation to show how the employer determined the amount of qualified health plan expenses it allocated to wages.

Like the DOL, the IRS will continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 on tax credits for qualified leave wages. More guidance will be forthcoming.

Employer Templates

We’ve created several templates to assist employers with managing COVID-19-related leave requests. Download our sample policy, sample paid sick leave request form, and sample expanded FMLA request form to help you get started. We’ve also created a frequently asked questions guide to address your most pressing questions.

Have questions about guidance?

Guidance continues to update and change rapidly. James Moore (and our HR Consulting team) will continue monitoring these updates and keep you informed about COVID-19-related leave under the FFCRA.

All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a James Moore professional. James Moore will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.