On Aug. 3, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York invalidated the U.S. Department of Labor’s definition of health care provider for purposes of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The decision would have required hospitals to provide COVID-19-related emergency paid sick leave and expanded Family Medical Leave Act benefits to all nonphysician employees.
In response, the DOL issued a revised rule narrowing the definition of health care provider for purposes of the FFCRA. Based on the new definition, staff involved in direct patient care may be exempted from the leave provisions of the Act.
The new definition, which takes effect Wednesday, Sept. 16, defines health care providers to include staff who are employed to provide diagnostic, preventive and treatment services, or other services integrated with and necessary for patient care.
The rule identifies nurses, medical technicians and “any other persons who directly provide” diagnostic, preventive and treatment services, as well as those employees who directly assist in the provision of such services to patients. This includes staff who are “otherwise integrated into and necessary to the provision of health care services, such as laboratory technicians who process test results necessary to diagnoses and treatment.”
The rule provides examples of hospital staff who would not be considered health care providers under the rule, such as IT professionals, building maintenance staff, human resources personnel, cooks, food services workers, records managers, consultants and billers.
Application for Missouri Hospitals
Based on the new rule, hospitals must provide the required emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA benefits to those employees who are not involved in direct patient care activities until the law sunsets on Dec. 31, 2020. However, hospitals may elect to exclude physicians and other employees necessary for patient care services from the leave provisions of the FFCRA.
MHA Subject Matter Experts
Jane Drummond, General Counsel and Vice President of Legal Affairs
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Jill Williams, Vice President of Workforce Initiatives
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