Government-mandated protocols and social distancing directives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to significant business interruptions and tremendous financial strain on employers. These measures may continue to disrupt businesses and the economy for the foreseeable future. As a result, employers are faced with difficult choices regarding their employees – including how to

Please note that the content below was posted on March 26, 2020. We have since provided updated guidance on the topics discussed in this post here.

The Department of Labor has issued a Notice Poster outlining employees’ rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA). This poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place in a location visible to employees and is available for download on the DOL website.  Additional facts regarding posting requirements can be found here.

Both the FFCRA’s leave provisions (Paid Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA) apply to private employers with fewer than 500 employees.  The Department of Labor has issued a Questions and Answers resource addressing one of the FFCRA’s most lingering questions – which employees are counted for purposes of the 500 or less employee threshold?


Continue Reading DOL Issues Notice Poster and Answers to FFCRA Frequently Asked Questions Clarifying 500-Employee Threshold

COVID-19 is spreading and testing, in many states, is increasing.  As a result, increasing numbers of employers will be faced with the reality of an employee testing positive for COVID-19.  When that happens, what’s an employer to do?  Below are some FAQs about COVID-19 in the workplace.

An employee has tested positive.  What can an employer do?

Send the employee home immediately.  The employer may require a doctor’s note releasing the employee to return to work, although the CDC has asked employers to consider foregoing such documentation due to current healthcare constraints.  If the employer chooses to forego the medical release to work, the CDC has provided that employees should not return to work until they are free of fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and any other COVID-19-related symptoms for at least 24 hours.  The CDC has indicated that healthcare professionals diagnosed with COVID-19 may return to work after seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND after three days have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms.

The employer should consider a deep clean of the employee’s workplace, including common areas.  The employer has the option to notify the diagnosed employee’s co-workers of the diagnosis, without releasing the employee’s name.  A sample notice is below:


Continue Reading COVID-19 in the Workplace: Employer FAQs

The economic repercussions of COVID-19 have been immediate and in many cases, debilitating, to American business across all industries, from food & beverage to manufacturing to healthcare.  Challenges faced include government-mandated closures of certain “non-essential” businesses and reduced demand of products and/or services.  As business revenue plummets, many companies are faced with the need to cut significant human capital costs in order to keep their business afloat.  Below are some options for companies to consider as they work to address reduced staffing needs.

Furlough

While the term furlough is used to describe various arrangements, typically a furlough is an unpaid leave of absence.  A furlough is often ideal for employers who anticipate a temporary need for reduced staffing.  Employees on furlough are still technically employed by the employer and, as a result, may be able to remain on the employer’s group health plan(s) if permitted by the terms of the plan(s).  Employers may require employees to pay the applicable employee portion of the premium during the furlough.  If the employer’s group health plan(s) is not available to employees on furlough, COBRA coverage would commence.  Also, many states allow for unemployment compensation to employees on an unpaid furlough.


Continue Reading Workforce Reduction Options Amid COVID-19

On Sunday, March 22, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced the “Safer at Home Order,” issued by the Medical Director pursuant to the Metro Public Health Department’s declaration of a Health Emergency. This order closes non-essential businesses and encourages residents throughout Davidson County (Tennessee) to stay home when possible and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people for non-essential purposes. The Order does not restrict or limit any employer’s right to ask employees to work from home.

Until further notice, all businesses not performing essential services have been ordered closed for 14 days beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 23.


Continue Reading Nashville Mayor John Cooper Announces Safer at Home Order

Bass, Berry & Sims labor & employment attorneys recently held a webinar briefing covering key information for employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Employers’ obligations will become effective no later than April 2, 2020. Get the information you need to know regarding the following aspects of the Act:

  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave
  • Emergency

Please note that the content below was posted on March 19, 2020. We have since provided updated guidance on the topics discussed in this post here.

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The final version of the law contains significant revisions to the bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

Employers’ obligations will become effective no later than April 2, 2020. A summary of the employment-related provisions and answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the Act are provided below.

On March 23 from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. CT, we will host a webinar titled “Employer Obligations Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act”.

Please register here and join us as we discuss the latest guidance for employers and answer your frequently asked questions.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

Employers must provide paid sick time to employees who are unable to work (or telework) for the following purposes through December 31, 2020:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order described in (1) above or has been advised as described in (2) above.
  5. The employee is caring for a child if the school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider of such child is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.


Continue Reading Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On Saturday, March 14, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Act is expected to be voted on by the U.S. Senate, and signed by President Trump early this week.

There are two different versions of the bill that are being circulated, but both versions contain extended FMLA

As the number of confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues to rise across the country and around the world, employers are looking for guidance regarding how they should react to the potential for spread of the virus. Several government agencies have responded to this demand. Bass, Berry & Sims’ labor & employment attorneys have