As the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, continues at pandemic levels, many employers are facing an unprecedented crisis. Information and regulations are changing on a daily basis, and it’s critical that employers and HR professionals stay up-to-date and flexible as the virus progresses across the country.
Here’s some of the most recent information employers should know about coronavirus:
Legislation is Here
Both federal and state governments are scrambling to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic, and several proposals are on the table to provide relief for both workers and businesses. On March 18, 2020, the Senate signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law that expands the Family and Medical Leave Act, requiring some companies to offer paid leave to employees who become sick or need to be tested for coronavirus. This legislation requires companies with under 500 employees to offer this leave. A stimulus package for the broader economy has been passed through Congress. This spending bill will provide relief for many who are experiencing significant hardships during this pandemic, including small businesses, corporations, airlines, and many others.
Most Regulations Are Local
The coronavirus response is being managed mostly at the state and local levels. Governors and mayors have sweeping powers to enforce on-the-ground regulations. Thus far, most states and cities have banned large gatherings, in addition to banning gatherings of more than 10 people. Many cities and even entire states are also starting to adopt the most extreme measures with shelter-in-place orders that restrict all non-essential activity outside the home.
The situation surrounding the pandemic is constantly changing. Employers should plan to be flexible and put contingency plans in place while they still can. Here are some basic tips for employers during the pandemic:
- Let employees work from home if possible. The virus has now spread to a point that many offices around the country have already closed their offices and asked employees to work remotely. Companies that have not closed down their offices may soon be forced to as some cities pass shelter-in-place orders that limit all unessential activities outside the home. Employers that do not have a plan for remote employees need to make one. Employers that cannot offer remote work need to make a plan for how they will deal with a closure and with employees being forced to stay home.
- Follow the CDC guidelines for employers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is constantly updating its guidance for employers. The guidelines recommend that employers monitor their employees for disease and encourage sick individuals to stay home. These guidelines are changing as the landscape of the disease changes.
- Assign a point person. Rules, regulations, and the levels of danger related to the coronavirus are changing by the day. It’s critical that companies have someone monitoring the situation for employees. This can be an HR team member or a contractor with a PEO or an HRO.
For Our Clients:
We have several resources and information available to you regarding the Coronavirus. BCBS is covering the test for COVID-19, as well as offering free telehealth visits until April 30th with PhysicianNow. Our Employee Assistance Program with Lincoln Financial is also offering guidance during this trying time. As employers and business owners, we want to make sure that you are aware of your options regarding employment-related concerns (can you send a sick EE home, do you pay them while at home, would their leave count towards FMLA, etc.). Feel free to reach out to your HR or payroll manager directly if you need links or access to these resources that will be extremely helpful in making decisions for your employees/business. We’re happy to walk you through your options during this difficult period.
Frequently Asked Questions
- March 23 – Emergency Paid Leave Act
We’re Here for You
Crisis is something that all employers should be prepared for, whether it be a pandemic or a natural disaster. If you have questions or need assistance along the way, contact us today to learn how LBMC Employment Partners can help your business plan and manage during a crisis.