On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, intended to stimulate the national economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would provide $2 trillion in direct financial assistance to Americans, ease access to loans and other economic assistance to businesses of all sizes, and provide aid and support to healthcare providers.
Employers with Puerto Rico operations should be aware that, with some minor income tax-related twists, the emergency paid leave provisions of the recently enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) equally apply in Puerto Rico.
On March 18, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19. Among other fiscal packages, the act does three things: (1) expands the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) temporarily (until the end of December 2020) to cover leave needed for the care of children out of school because of COVID-19 and also makes weeks 3 through 12 of its effective period paid leave; (2) creates 2 weeks of paid sick leave for childcare and other leave related to the coronavirus; and (3) provides for tax credits related to the paid leave provisions created by the act.
On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) announced the issuance of additional guidance related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The guidance includes “Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-1: Temporary Non-Enforcement Period Applicable to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act” and model notices “for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law.”
On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division issued preliminary guidance for employers and employees concerning the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). Both laws are part of larger Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) enacted on March 18, 2020.
In a few short weeks, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has driven massive change in day-to-day activities for most Americans, and that change appears likely to accelerate. Travel restrictions, social distancing recommendations, and other public health interventions have had immediate implications for the nation’s employers, which now find themselves on the front lines of the COVID-19 response effort trying to ensure the safety of employees and customers while still continuing business operations. Employers are particularly aware of the financial challenges that may be imposed upon employees who are not permitted to work for extended periods of time, whether due to contracting COVID-19, self-quarantining due to coronavirus exposure, or office closures.
The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United Kingdom has caused employers to be increasingly concerned and uncertain regarding the future of their workforces. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) that employers may be facing as the virus affects UK workforces.
On March 20, 2020, the U.K. National Health Service (NHS) launched online isolation notes to enable employees to provide evidence to their employers that they have been medically advised to self-isolate due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York have all issued statewide shelter-in-place orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more states may follow. Employers that do not qualify for an exemption under the applicable state order or that decide to severely curtail or shut down operations may want to consider some of the following issues.
On March 8, 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just 9 days later, on March 17, 2020, Governor Brown issued a series of executive orders that prohibited gatherings of 25 people or more; prohibited any restaurants, bars, or other similar establishments that offer food or drink from allowing on-premises consumption; and closed public schools statewide through at least April 28, 2020.
On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the second in a series of bills in response to the COVID-19 outbreak within the United States. President Donald Trump signed the bill (H.R. 6201) into law later that evening.
On March 18, 2020, at Governor Andrew Cuomo’s behest, New York State passed an emergency law that extends paid leave and additional employment protections and benefits immediately to employees involuntarily quarantined in connection with COVID-19. An initial version of the bill also included paid sick leave provisions that were not directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and were scheduled to take effect January 1, 2021. Those provisions have been stricken from the emergency law but are expected to be passed in separate legislation.
In light of the international concern about, and risks associated with, the COVID-19 virus, the Canadian government recently took action aimed at stopping its spread and providing relief for those immediately affected. On March 16, 2020, the government announced that it is closing its borders and the introduction of job protection legislation.
In our recent article, we explained the COVID-19 epidemic’s potential impact on Arizona employers’ duty to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Significantly, we noted that in the event the governor declared a “public health emergency,” various business and school closures ordered by a “public official” in connection with that declaration could trigger paid sick leave obligations under Arizona’s earned paid sick time law.
On February 26, 2020, in the case of Schmitz v. Alamance-Burlington Board of Education, the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss claims for associational discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), retaliation under the ADA, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. In the opinion and order, the court paved the way for the plaintiff to pursue associational discrimination claims.
On February 24, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina issued an opinion in Brown v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. regarding disability discrimination, reasonable accommodations, and retaliation involving an employee who was unable to return to work following expiration of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. The case offers employers some guidance regarding the undue hardship analysis at a micro and macro level, ensuring compliance with the interactive process, and the best practice for handling requests for finite leave when the possibility of additional future leave is evident.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has refused leave to appeal in the case of Chief Constable of Leicester v. Hextall. The claimant had sought leave to appeal the court of appeal’s May 2019 ruling in the combined cases of Ali v. Capita Customer Management Limited and Chief Constable of Leicester v. Hextall,  EWCA Civ 900.
Recognizing that Japan has entered a new phase in its fight against the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Japan officials announced a preemptive approach geared toward risk mitigation and slowing down the spread of the virus to prevent a spike in infections. This strategy, which includes strengthening testing and quarantining capacities, could have long-term impacts on employment practices, particularly in office-based environments in which technology provides more adaptive flexibility.
The outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (now designated COVID-19) caused massive disruption in China, including a nationwide extension of its Spring Festival holidays. Though February 10, 2020, was the last “public holiday,” some businesses remain closed, and many still encourage China-based employees to work from home.
It was a busy January 2020 in Trenton, with the state enacting several new employment laws, with more apparently on the way. This is in addition to the slew of new laws adopted in 2019 impacting New Jersey employers. Here’s a summary of recent employment law developments in New Jersey just one month into 2020, a look at what may be on the way, and a recap of 2019’s changes.
Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) released guidance on how to report wages paid under the state Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFML) for employers’ fourth quarter 2019 PFML return. This guidance was released to ensure covered employers can properly and timely file and remit contributions in advance of the quarterly deadline of January 31, 2020.
The City of San Antonio’s Sick and Safe Leave ordinance has been enjoined. The ordinance was originally scheduled to go into effect on August 1, 2019, but on July 24, 2019, a Texas state court delayed implementation until December 1, 2019, pending a ruling on a motion for temporary injunction filed by business groups and the state.
In Popeck v. Rawlings Company, LLC, No. 19-5092 (October 16, 2019), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the Rawlings Company on Popeck’s claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), finding that regular, in-person attendance was an essential function of Popeck’s job as a claims auditor.
In Simpson v. Temple University, et al., the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment to the defendants on the plaintiff’s claims of interference and retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The decision illustrates the practical significance of documenting performance issues and termination decisions as soon as possible.
In part due to the prevalence of female employees in the healthcare setting, the healthcare industry has moved to address lactation accommodation laws and implement lactation policies at a faster pace than other industries.
The Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to issue updates concerning compliance with the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFML). The DFML’s most recent updates address private plan exemptions and how the DFML has reevaluated and revised its internal review process to more efficiently evaluate these applications.
In response to a lawsuit filed by a number of San Antonio business groups, the San Antonio City Council approved certain revisions to the city’s paid sick leave (PSL) ordinance, including renaming it the Sick and Safe Leave (SSL) ordinance. The SSL ordinance is scheduled to become effective on December 1, 2019.
The deadlines for notice to employees and contribution withholdings required by the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) are fast approaching, and employers are encouraged to make sure that they are prepared. Ahead of these important deadlines, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to announce updated guidance on the program.