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So, your employee wants to stay on unemployment

By Paul Edwards bio It’s been a couple of months of COVID chaos and business owners across America are thinking about what it’s going to take to reopen their businesses—and the economy, in general. Of course, the first piece of that equation involves recalling your employees who have been temporarily furloughed or laid off. And, since one portion of the CARES Act included an additional $600 per week to anyone collecting unemployment benefits, one common question we’re hearing is, “What if my employees refuse to come back to work because they want to keep collecting unemployment?” Usually, this question seems to be based on a misunderstanding of how unemployment benefits work. Generally speaking, if your employees refuse work in favor of collecting unemployment benefits, they will likely not be eligible for those… . . . read more

Tool: Model COVID-19 Medical Screening Policy

Regulators have made it clear that given the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may implement pre-screening measures to ensure that people who have or may have the virus don’t get into work and spread it to others. But limits still apply and you can get into a lot of trouble if you don’t follow them. Here’s a Model Policy your firm can adapt that provides for the necessary privacy, health and safety, non-discrimination and other protections.

YOUR CAREER

Managing virtual teams in a COVID-19 era

By Lynne Curry bio If you’re a manager struggling your way up the steep virtual workplace learning curve, you may discover the COVID-19 pandemic makes you a better leader. Here’s how to navigate your way through this trial by fire. Focus on results Effective remote supervision requires managers to switch gears from supervising activities to managing results. Train yourself to keep your focus, and that of your team, on results and overall productivity. Say goodbye to micro-management.  Not only doesn’t it work, but you’ll drive your employees and yourself crazy if you keep them under a microscope from a distance.  Things come up for employees working from home that don’t when they’re at a regular work site. Let your employees know what you hold them accountable for and allow them… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE GUIDANCE

How to create a legally sound COVID-19 medical screening policy

Like so many other law offices during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be considering medically screening your employees each day before letting them into the workplace. While screening is highly problematic in normal times, regulators have grudgingly acknowledged that it may be a justified health and safety measure during the pandemic. The operative phrase is “may be,” which means that limits still apply. You need to recognize and ensure keep your facility in compliance with those limits. Here’s how. Three Ways COVID-19 Screening Can Get Your Firm into Legal Hot Water Medically screening  personnel can expose you to three kinds of liability. Privacy Violations Body temperature and information about an individual’s symptoms (or lack thereof) collected during the screening process is personal health information (PHI) protected by HIPAA and other… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Coronavirus pushing rapid changes in employer law

By Mike O’Brien bio Employer  law is rapidly changing amid the coronavirus pandemic. For one thing, Congress has passed another coronavirus related law. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has provided some helpful guidance and answered a number of questions about the recent expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and about the new paid sick leave law, see: DOL FFCRA Q&A. Here are updates:  PAID LEAVE UNDER THE EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT (EPSLA): Employees of covered employers (private employers below 500 employees and certain public employers) are eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave for certain COVID-19 related reasons. If leave is because he/she is quarantined (by government order or a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical… . . . read more

CORONAVIRUS

What employees and managers can do to protect each other

By Lynne Curry bio I’m scared. I don’t feel like my boss or coworkers are taking COVID-19 seriously. The medical professionals say we should be wiping down high-touch places. In our office, I’m the one who does it. So does that make me on the front line? Does my doing all this cleaning let everyone else feel safer so they don’t think they need to do anything? It would be fair if we rotated the cleaning but I can’t count on anyone else doing a good job so I “suck it up, Buttercup.” My mom works for a large company. When her coworker picked up his son from the airport, the coworker and his family remained at home for fourteen days due to hosting someone who recently traveled, despite the… . . . read more

COVID 19

Employers need a plan for the pandemic

By Lynne Curry bio your employees ask, “What are we going to do when COVID-19 gets worse in our community?” you can’t say “I don’t know.”  If you’re an employer, you need a plan. You need to address what you’ll do to keep your employees as healthy as possible and what your employees can expect from you as their employer. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Most American workers are not at significant risk of infection,” but some workers may have elevated risk because of interaction with potentially infected individuals1. The Center for Disease Control recommends that employers clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches and faucets with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants; encourage employees to regularly wash their hands; place alcohol-based hand sanitizer around… . . . read more

COVID-19

Create a new normal to cope with new times

By Lynne Curry bio If every several days you wonder “is this pandemic a nightmare and if so, when will I wake up?” you’re not alone. Two months ago none of us knew that in my state more than 49,000 Alaskans would lose their jobs or that nine Alaskans would die from COVID-19. We didn’t expect that the rest of us would work in situations that put our heath at risk or struggle to work remotely. But it happened; here’s our new normal. More than 15 percent of U.S. employers permanently cut head count as of April 7; another 24 percent are considering it. One out of every 10 employers has permanently closed their doors. Three out of every 10 employers laid off employees as of April 7, another 28… . . . read more

Coronavirus

Before you let your employees work remote

By Paul Edwards bio In light of growing concerns surrounding coronavirus, many businesses are wondering if they will be faced with a decision to send employees home and/or close their doors for a period of time. One popular idea to address these concerns is to offer remote work (or ‘telework’) options. If you don’t regularly have remote workers, this may not be something you’re prepared to do. That said, we recommend making a plan now so you’re ready when you need it. The guidance we offer below is “perfect world” guidance. We realize that you may not be able to get all of these items in place on short-notice. In such cases, you will just have to do your best to meet your business’ needs during temporary remote-work scenarios. In… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Employment law changing on the fly in response to COVID-19

By Mike O’Brien bio COVID-19 has ushered in a variety of new, and fast-evolving employment law changes, from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). EMPLOYEE RETENTION TAX CREDIT:  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes a tax credit for employers that retain employees during the COVID-19 crisis.  The credit generally provides relief to employers of all sizes in the form of a refundable payroll tax credit of 50% of all “qualified wages” paid (up to $10,000 per employee) during the COVID-19 crisis if (i) operations were fully or partially suspended or subject to a shut-down order; or (ii) gross receipts declined more than 50% compared to the same quarter in the prior year.  Note that for… . . . read more


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