The recent spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States has caused employers to be increasingly concerned and uncertain regarding the future of their workforces. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the latest developments on the virus and guidance from federal agencies.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center
The Ogletree Deakins Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center delivers the information and resources that employers need to minimize risk and remain informed about the many workplace issues related to the virus. During the outbreak—and the international response to it—employers must make critical decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of their workforces while accomplishing their goals.
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 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.
On March 27, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted a webinar to address emerging questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the EEOC’s previously updated pandemic guidance. The EEOC has not yet published revised guidance or a questions-and-answers document, but it offered listeners useful information during its webinar. Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys who were in attendance on the webinar prepared the following takeaways based on notes from the presentation to help employers in this evolving area.
On March 23, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) published answers to frequently asked questions by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) stakeholders about the impact of COVID-19 on SEVP-certified schools and students on F and M visas.
For those employers that have obligations under collective bargaining agreements to contribute to multiemployer benefit plans, the employment implications of the COVID-19 crisis may have significant consequences. Here are some potential pitfalls and possible advantages to participating in multiemployer plans for employers grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 23, 2020, Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued a “Stay-at-Home Order,” Executive Order 20-08 (E.O. 20-08). Under the order, Indiana residents are directed to stay in their homes except to engage in certain “Essential Activities,” including taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety reasons. Individuals are also permitted to leave home to work for certain “Essential Business or Operations,” and to carry out certain permitted activities, including “Minimum Basic Operations.” Under the order, nonessential business operations may continue only to the extent that employees or contractors are performing activities exclusively at their own residences.
As discussed in our previous article, the Georgia Department of Labor (Georgia DOL) has implemented an emergency rule that requires Georgia employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees for any week during which an employee (full-time or part-time) works less than his or her regular full-time or part-time schedule due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The public health departments of Oakland County, Wayne County, Washtenaw County, and Ingham County have issued public health emergency orders instituting limits and protections for individuals permitted to work in person pursuant to Michigan Executive Order (EO) 2020-21 – Stay Home, Stay Safe.
On March 23, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued guidance to DOT-regulated employers, employees, and service agents regarding drug and alcohol testing concerns during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In the guidance, the DOT explains its commitment to maintaining public safety while simultaneously providing flexibility to transportation industries operating during the national emergency.
In response to COVID-19, state and local governments are issuing orders suspending “non-essential” business. At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, construction work is often included on the list of essential business, particularly if it relates to utilities, telecommunications, transportation, and healthcare infrastructure.
We are experiencing extraordinary times. But even in our current situation of the global coronavirus pandemic, many employer responsibilities will still continue nearly unaffected. One of those is the requirement to properly process wage garnishments. This duty cannot be ignored because compliance failures can result in an employer becoming liable for an employee’s entire debt —and legions of collections lawyers will likely look to capitalize on employer omissions and mistakes.
On March 24, 2020, the British Columbia government made two changes to the BC Employment Standards Act to provide workers with unpaid, job-protected leave due to illness and injury.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices will remain closed to the public until at least April 7, 2020. The closure applies to routine in-person services at USCIS field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs), although emergency services may be available in limited circumstances.
The COVID-19 virus has accomplished something in Minnesota that 60-degree below zero windchills, Olympic curling on TV, and the alluring aroma of homemade lutefisk cannot: forcing Minnesotans to stay home.
On March 17 and 20, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Orders 20-68 and 20-71, announcing unprecedented state-wide closures of bars and nightclubs, restaurants for on-site dining, and stand-alone gyms. Since then, additional counties and municipalities in Florida have enacted more stringent measures attempting to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic is interrupting, and in many cases, preventing compliance with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) drug and alcohol testing regulations. On March 23, 2020, DOT published guidance on compliance with DOT drug and alcohol regulations that clarified some existing legal requirements but offered little in the way of practical solutions. On March 25, 2020, however, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published clear, flexible guidance specific to FMCSA’s testing requirements to aid FMCSA-regulated employers unable to comply with FMCSA’s testing requirements due to COVID-19.
On March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 107 (EO 107), which ordered all nonessential retail businesses to close their physical locations in New Jersey until further notice. Then on March 24, 2020, the state expanded the list of essential retail businesses whose physical locations are permitted to continue operating during their normal business hours.
On March 25, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 110 (EO 110), which mandates the closing of all childcare centers operating in New Jersey unless they are certified as emergency childcare centers and agree to “provide child care services exclusively to ‘essential persons’ during the school closure period.”
On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously (96-0) to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act as an attempt to stabilize the U.S. economy disruptions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act aims to boost the economy with over $2 trillion in tax and non-tax emergency aid provided to individuals and businesses. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill on March 27, 2020, which is now pending presidential signature.
On March 25, 2020, New York State published highly anticipated guidance concerning the state’s emergency paid quarantine leave law. The guidance provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing, among other things, benefits, eligibility, and the application process.
Now that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) acknowledges that employers may implement temperature screening measures in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many employers want to conduct them, and want to know how to conduct them. In some locations, employers may even feel compelled to conduct them based on location-specific or general community mitigation guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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 24, 2020, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, similar to various other localities, issued a stay-at-home order for the next 21 days to contain the spread of COVID-19. The order begins on March 26, 2020, and continues through April 16, 2020, subject to regular review by county health officials and Emergency Management.
On March 24, 2020, upon the request and recommendation of Mayor Randall Woodfin, the Birmingham, Alabama City Council unanimously adopted a “shelter in place” order, “An Ordinance to Establish a ‘Shelter in Place’ Order for the City of Birmingham During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.”
Unemployment benefits for impacted workers have now been addressed in both the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (phase 2) and the pending Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (phase 3), which has now been passed in the U.S. Senate and is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives in response to COVID-19. The president’s signature is expected immediately once final approval is obtained by Congress. In light of staggering unemployment numbers released on March 26, 2020, this assistance has come just in time as many employers and impacted workers are facing economic devastation in the wake of COVID-19. According to the most recent statics, unemployment claims surged to over 3.2 million last week to the highest levels since tracking began in 1967.
On March 20, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a series of executive orders in response to the growing and evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Orders 2020-69 through 2020-72 expand the scope of Executive Order (EO) No. 2020-68, which limited the operation of bars, pubs, and nightclubs, as well as restricted gatherings at restaurants and beaches.
On March 25, 2020, Governor Brad Little and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare issued a statewide Order to Self-Isolate, which went into effect at 1:30 p.m. on March 25, 2020, for at least 21 days, at which point the governor will “reassess” to “determine what happens next.” The order requires all individuals living in Idaho to self-isolate at their places of residence, leaving only for “Essential Activities,” maintaining “Essential Governmental Functions,” or to operate “Essential Businesses” as defined by the order.
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, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued “Emergency Order #12: Safer at Home Order” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order, which requires Wisconsin residents to “stay at home or place of residence” except to engage in certain activities, is similar to those issued in several other states (including California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania).
On March 23, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-25 directing all residents immediately to heed current state public health directives to stay home. According to the proclamation, “[a]ll people in Washington State shall immediately cease leaving their home or place of residence except: (1) to conduct or participate in essential activities, and/or (2) for employment in essential business services.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent employers into a frenzy as they try to stay abreast of new developments and do everything they can to protect their employees. As a result, many employers are getting creative. While working with the best of intentions, these employers may be creating legal issues that can negatively impact their organizations and the employees they are trying to protect. Here is a top 10 list of employer mistakes to avoid during the COVID-19 crisis.
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.
An employer’s response to COVID-19 involves numerous privacy issues. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about these issues within the United States and globally, based on laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (which applies in the United States) and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While many of these principles can be applied globally, employers should always look to applicable local laws in their jurisdictions and guidance from public health authorities. Employers should also consult any applicable internal policies, data privacy notices, employee collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and individual employment terms.
On March 10, 2020, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS), which regulates a variety of financial service entities such as banks, credit unions, check cashers, insurance companies, mortgage brokers, investment advisors, and cryptocurrency businesses, issued guidance in a series of “industry letters” and “circular letters” requesting “assurance” of operational preparedness relating to COVID-19. Such operation preparedness plans include a plan to maintain an adequate workforce, including remote work and other strategies to safeguard the workforce.
On March 20, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-10, directing all residents to stay at home except as necessary for essential activities and government functions and to operate essential businesses. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the executive order and its impact on Illinois employers.
Following several other states, and at the direction of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issued a shelter-in-place order for Ohio residents titled “Director’s Stay at Home Order.” The order went into effect on March 23, 2020, and will remain in place until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020, unless rescinded or modified.
On March 23, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order No. 53 (EO-53), which restricts the operation of certain non-essential businesses including restaurants and recreational and entertainment businesses. The order goes into effect on March 24, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., and will remain in effect until at least 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020.
New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy signed Executive Order (EO) No. 109 on March 23, 2020, suspending all “elective surgeries and invasive procedures performed on adults that are scheduled to take place after 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 27.”
On March 22, 2020, the State of Louisiana issued a “stay at home” order directing all residents to stay home, except for essential activities, essential government functions, or to participate in the certain permitted “essential critical” businesses. Louisiana’s order allows more businesses to continue operations than other “stay at home” orders that other states had issued.
On March 23, 2020, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued Executive Order 2020-21 (E.O. 2020-21), ordering all individuals living in the City of Atlanta to stay home “to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate . . . to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent feasible.”
With the rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, California employers have endeavored to ensure the health and safety of their workforces while at the same time heeding the anti-discrimination provisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Addressing a number of unique issues arising out of the current crises, on March 20, 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) issued answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQs address compliance with both the anti-discrimination provisions in FEHA as well as leave of absence rights found in the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
Conditions for doing business in Maryland are rapidly changing due to the spread of the novel Coronavirus (and the illness it causes, COVID-19). On March 23, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan issued Order Number 20-03-23-01 mandating the closure of all nonessential businesses effective at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020. While not going as far a shelter-in-place order, the order banned social gatherings larger than 10 people and Marylanders were urged to avoid going out as much as possible.
As a complement to our frequently asked questions (FAQ) for U.S. employers, below are some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the latest developments on the virus, guidance from applicable public health authorities outside the United States, and managing COVID-19 responses across multiple jurisdictions worldwide. For terminology purposes, these FAQs use the term “COVID-19” generally to refer to the illness that is the subject of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pandemic declaration.
As employers everywhere grapple with the COVID-19 crisis and its impact upon their employees and operations, questions have arisen regarding union contracts that expire on or about March 31, 2020. Although every labor contract and bargaining relationship is unique, established federal labor law principles can be applied to guide employers during this difficult time.
Employers are facing numerous issues in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including remote work, temporary office closures, furloughs, and layoffs. These issues may have particular implications for U.S. employees holding H-1B specialty occupation visas, as they are typically required to remain productive in order to maintain their legal status.
On March 23, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order No. 2020-21 (E.O. 2020-21), a “stay home, stay safe” directive setting forth the state’s “[t]emporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.” A sweeping order that appears to be broader than orders that have been issued by other states.
On March 23, 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order (EO) No. 20-12 (Oregon’s stay-at-home order), directing all Oregon residents to stay home to the maximum extent possible, closing certain businesses, and requiring social distancing measures for both public and private facilities.
Following a nationwide trend (including California, Delaware, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and other states), Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced he will be issuing a safer-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Governor Evers stated he would issue the order on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on March 20, 2020, that it will relax the in-person verification requirements of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification for employers operating remotely due to COVID-19. Beginning March 20, 2020, employers will not be required to review an employee’s identity and/or employment authorization documents while in the employee’s physical presence.
On March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order (EO) No. 107, requiring New Jersey residents to stay at home and closing the physical location of any non-essential retail business so long as the order stays in effect. Although their “brick-and-mortar” locations must remain closed, businesses may continue to operate their online and telephone delivery services to the extent they are licensed to do so. The order went into effect on March 21, 2020, at 9:00 p.m.
On March 22, 2020, Governor John Carney, issued the fourth and fifth modifications to his state of emergency declaration, closing all non-essential businesses and ordering Delawareans to stay at home.
On March 16, 2020, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler implemented an emergency rule relating to unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The emergency rule requires Georgia employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees for any week during which an employee (full-time or part-time) works less than his or her regular full-time or part-time schedule due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Government of India has issued an order prohibiting all inbound international flights to India beginning March 22, 2020. The current ban is set to expire on March 29, 2020, but is subject to change.
On March 21, 2020, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued Second Amended Order 20-01, repealing the city’s earlier Amended Order dated March 16, 2020, and replacing it with a stricter, “Stay At Home” order to contain and control the spread of COVID-19. The local governments for Johnson, Leavenworth, and Wyandotte counties in Kansas, and Clay, Platte, and Jackson counties in Missouri, soon joined Kansas City, Missouri, in issuing similar orders to contain and control the spread of COVID-19.
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 19, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf issued a broad executive order requiring the closure of “all businesses that are not life sustaining.” Simultaneously, the secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health issued a similar order, explaining “the closure of non-life sustaining businesses is necessary to protect the public’s health.”
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).
On March 19, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 directing all residents to stay at home, except as necessary to maintain “essential critical infrastructure sectors.” The order left open the potential for the governor to add additional sectors whose workers may continue to report to work.
On March 20, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing services for all Forms I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Forms I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers due to COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension includes new premium processing requests for H-1B petitions, including cap-subject petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2021, and supersedes the FY 2021 premium processing schedule announced on March 16, 2020.
As of March 21, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept electronically reproduced original signatures in lieu of “wet” signatures on all benefit forms and documents. USCIS implemented the temporary change as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency, and the change only applies to signatures.
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 20, 2020, Illinois joined California, New York, and Pennsylvania in issuing a sweeping closure order to contain the spread of COVID-19. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10, Executive Order in Response to COVID-19 (COVID-19 Executive Order No. 8), directing “all individuals currently living within the State of Illinois . . . to stay at home” except as necessary for “Essential Activities, Essential Government Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations.”
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.
The U.S. Department of State announced on March 18, 2020, that it has suspended all routine visa services, including immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments, in most countries worldwide.
A recent article proclaimed a truth that manufacturers in all industry sectors know all too well: “You can’t build jets working from home.” As law offices, financial services firms, and tech companies close their doors and require employees to “work from home,” manufacturers face the reality that manufacturing requires employees to work on site. There is no factory production work from home. Intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and workers’ compensation absences are hard enough to manage in the ordinary course of business. But the challenge to staff a factory becomes much more daunting every day during this COVID-19 pandemic, with emphasis on self-quarantine, social distancing, and avoiding groups of as few as 10 people.
Effective March 18, 2020, all U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices are temporarily closed to the public. USCIS has suspended all routine in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
During this season of COVID-19, in which the duration of the crisis is unknown, employers across the country are seeking to implement cost-cutting measures which avoid full-blown reductions in force (RIFs). Many employers are opting instead for cost-saving measures that are designed to be temporary and reversible placeholders in the event the economy snaps back sooner rather than later. Employers have several tools in their toolkits.
Employers across the globe, faced with the need to reduce the risk of workplace transmission of COVID-19, may be contemplating imposing standard temperature screenings on their employees. In many jurisdictions, an employer may need or want to consult with employee representatives (such as Works Councils in Europe or unions where applicable) or limit temperature checks to only those employees who consent. Even if temperature checks comply with local and national laws, instituting such measures may still present risks for employers, such as claims that the employer screened employees in a discriminatory fashion and mishandled the data from a privacy perspective. Temperature screenings may also pose employee and public relations considerations.
On March 14, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued temporary enforcement guidance addressing the fit-testing requirements in the agency’s respiratory protection standard (29 C.F.R. § 1910.134). The guidance applies to healthcare workers using N95 respirators to protect them from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the U.S. House of Representative’s “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” by a vote of 90-8, and President Trump signed the act into law the same day. The law does not contain any changes to the House versions of the legislation that were passed on March 14, 2020, and March 16, 2020. Next up will be “Phase 3” of Congress’s response to COVID-19, which will likely center around a massive economic stimulus.
The Alabama Department of Labor announced this week that workers who are not able to work due to COVID-19 will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits starting on March 23, 2020.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued two executive orders over the past several days that will impact certain employers that are responding to the coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19. On March 14, 2020, Executive Order 2020-06 was rescinded and replaced with Executive Order 2020-07, which places temporary restrictions on individuals who may enter health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities. On March 16, 2020, Executive Order 2020-05 was rescinded and replaced with Executive Order 2020-11, which places restrictions on large assemblages and events.
Beginning March 16, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began allowing certain travelers the opportunity to make a Satisfactory Departure request directly at a port of entry if, due to COVID-19–related travel issues, a traveler is unable to depart the United States before his or her period of admission expires.
In an effort to facilitate response efforts for COVID-19, Director Craig Leen of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced that it is issuing a national interest exemption on March 17, 2020, to new supply and service and construction contracts entered into from March 17, 2020, through June 17, 2020.
On March 16, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives approved new legislative text for the emergency coronavirus bill. The amendments to the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” (H.R. 6201) were intended to correct drafting errors that occurred while the House cobbled together its coronavirus bill over the weekend.
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 an effort to increase social distancing in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on March 15, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom held a news conference in which he issued an executive order calling for the home isolation of all individuals who are 65 and older, as well as individuals with chronic health conditions.
The continuing spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the United States has caused employers to consider implementing contingency plans to help curb the spread of the disease and protect their workforces. Many companies are now restricting nonessential travel outside of the United States. Companies are also increasingly instructing their employees to work from home.
The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact international travel to the United States as well as the availability of U.S. consular services around the world. The following is a summary of the latest updates.
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, it is anticipated that a large portion of the workforce will be asked to work from home for their own protection and for the protection of others. Working from home (or telecommuting) is not a new concept. However, it will be new for some employees and may strain the resources of a company during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Both employers and individuals continue to receive a barrage of information regarding the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). It is important to remember that during any time of stress, there will be some people with bad intentions willing to take advantage of the situation. “Phishing” and similar cybersecurity attacks are among the scams that the U.S. government is currently seeing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
High-deductible health plans may now cover testing and treatment for 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on a first-dollar basis without risking making participants ineligible to participate in health savings accounts (HSAs). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a notice providing temporary relief for high-deductible health plans covering COVID-19-related health care services and supplies before the minimum deductible is met.
An employer who requires or permits employees to work from their homes has limited responsibilities for the safety and health of the employee’s working conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sharply distinguishes between home offices and other home workplaces, such as home manufacturing facilities in which, for example, employees assemble electronic parts.
As the coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19, continue to spread, employers in France are taking into account the risk of an epidemic caused by the increase in the number of people who may become affected, both in France and abroad.
On March 11, 2020, the Trump administration issued a proclamation suspending the entry of foreign nationals from 26 European countries (known as the Schengen Area) into the United States. The suspension is intended to help curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 13, 2020.
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 March 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division posted a helpful guidance for employers addressing some of the issues they are likely contemplating with respect to employee wages in different COVID-19 scenarios. “COVID-19 or Other Public Health Emergencies and the Fair Labor Standards Act Questions and Answers” offers answers to a number of questions related to emergencies generally under the federal wage and hour laws. Here is what you need to know.
On the evening of March 9, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new guidance, “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.” The guidance divides employers into four risk categories and provides recommendations on engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment to protect employees from coronavirus.
The COVID-19 outbreak implicates many different laws for employers to consider as they develop and refine their responses to rapidly changing circumstances.
As of March 3, 2020, the Canadian government has confirmed 33 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country: 20 cases in Ontario, 12 in British Columbia, and one in Quebec. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to assess the public health risk as low. Nevertheless, Canadian employers may want to ensure that the risk of exposure in the workplace is minimized. Here are some key questions for employers to consider.
Since February 2020, the spread of COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the coronavirus) has morphed into an expanding health emergency in the United States. While efforts to sufficiently stem the adverse effects of the virus to escape the mass disruptions and quarantines experienced in China and other countries are still possible, prudent and responsible Arizona employers may want to prepare in the event the virus dramatically increases its presence here.
As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread, employers have been trying to strike a balance between safety and privacy as they apply their own policies and attempt to follow laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 in the United States.
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.
It appears that we are in “hurry up and wait” mode. We know that COVID-19 (i.e., the 2019 Novel Coronavirus) has been diagnosed among individuals in the United States, and, reportedly, has been contained. We also know that upon diagnoses in South Korea and Italy, the virus began to spread rapidly. We have all been watching China to see how severely the closures of businesses would impact its economy and the global supply chain.
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.
On February 7, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), February 2020. The interim guidance contains numerous recommendations employers may wish to consider as questions relating to the coronavirus 2019-nCoV arise.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released guidance for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov). OSHA notes that measures for protecting works depends on the “the type of work being performed and exposure risk, including potential for interaction with infectious people and contamination of the work environment.”
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has released Interim Guidance for Protecting Health Care Workers from Exposure to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This guidance pertains to “health care facilities, laboratories, public health services, police services and other locations where employees are reasonably anticipated to be exposed to confirmed or suspected cases of aerosol transmissible diseases.”
On February 2, 2020, the United States joined a growing list of countries that have implemented travel restrictions for those at risk of transmitting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Recent fast-paced developments, increasing employee apprehensions, and uncertainty regarding the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV have left employers and employees with some concerns. We recently discussed the emergence of the coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, and the first confirmed cases in the United States, which were deemed to be travel related and acquired by individuals traveling from China.
As the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak continues to develop, a number of workplace issues have arisen, including issues of quarantine, medical testing, and pay, and proactive employers are taking steps to protect and educate their employees.
As the world responds to the accelerating 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak originating in Wuhan, China—a situation now declared by the World Health Organization to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern—multinational employers, particularly those with employees based in or traveling to China, are assessing their role in managing workforce impact. In addition to taking precautions to prevent the spread of illness, employers are contending with government-imposed travel shutdowns and advisories, quarantines, border screenings, and extended holidays that may affect local operations and global mobility.
Employers with employees traveling to and from China may want to take note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on January 21, 2020, that the United States had confirmed its first case of a new strain of the coronavirus that appeared in Wuhan, China, last month. The virus has already sickened hundreds of people and is reported to have killed six, according to Chinese authorities.