With the Coronavirus affecting every aspect of daily life, it also is raising a seemingly unending series of concerns for employers, including paid sick leave, employee safety, millions of newly-remote workers and more, says a new XpertHR report on coronavirus workplace issues. One of the biggest concerns — paid sick leave—is being addressed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which takes effect on April 2 hrtech news.
Prior to the passage of the Coronavirus Response Act, 24% of civilian workers did not have access to paid sick leave, according to BLS data. The new legislation amends the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA), which ensures that many more workers are able to access paid leave should they become infected or need to give care, says XpertHR.
The bill covers all employees who work for an employer with less than 500 employees or who work for a public agency with more than 1 employee. However, the bill contains language allowing the Secretary of Labor to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid sick leave requirement hrtech.
“Nobody really has a playbook for the coronavirus, and it’s moving faster than many companies could prepare for it,” says David Weisenfeld, JD, XpertHR Legal Editor. “In this unprecedented situation, employers need to be flexible and find working solutions.”
Employee health and safety is also front and center. Employers have a duty under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act to ensure that their employees have a safe and healthy workplace. But it’s still an area where employers must tread cautiously. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that employers not request doctor’s notes from employees returning to work after being out for health reasons.
In its new report, podcast and blog, XpertHR provides guidance on:
- What if an employee refuses to travel or come to work because of safety concerns?
- Do you need to alter sick leave or attendance policies?
- When can employers order employees to stay home? What if they are ineligible for PTO time or FMLA leave?
- Why must companies look beyond legal requirements to broader business implications?
- What if employees cite safety concerns in requesting not to work near co-workers who traveled abroad in recent months?
- How is the Coronavirus affecting pay practices?
“Employers should clearly communicate policies to employees and advise them on the steps they are taking in response to COVID-19, including its position on business travel and remote working,” says Weisenfeld, whose podcast offers useful tips on a host of issues that employers across the US are dealing with on a daily basis.
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Editor’s Note: David Weisenfeld, JD, Legal Editor, XpertHR, is available for interview. If you use any of this material, please include a link to https://bit.ly/33tSKmv.