HEALTH & SAFETY TRAINING (COVID-19)
We have created a training video to help our clients provide employee education related to the health and safety considerations of COVID-19. Our video is less than 7 minutes and includes current material from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Several states, including California, Illinois, and Vermont require companies to provide employees with COVID-19 training. You can use the video, along with your company-specific information, to educate your workforce.
Click here to view the video: COVID-19 Health and Safety Training
PPP LOAN UPDATES
For those of you who were able to join our June 26th webinar, we hope it provided valuable information related to the recent updates to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The webinar recording can be viewed here, along with all of the questions and answers that followed: WEBINAR: PPP Update Following the Flexibility Act and Revised Forgiveness Applications
Over the past few days, we have heard from several people asking for more details on the PPP provision that allows borrowers to use a new FTE safe harbor and/or use the EZ application. Here is the Q&A :
Question : Can you elaborate on the exemption (FTE safe harbor requirement and/or ability to use EZ application) related to borrowers who were unable to operate at the same level of business due to CDC, HHS, and OSHA standards?
Answer : The SBA’s updated rule on Loan Forgiveness provides that if a borrower can document in good faith that its reduction in business activity during its applicable covered period compared to its activity at February 15, 2020 stems directly or indirectly from compliance with social distancing, sanitation or worker/customer safety requirements issued by the HHS, CDC or OSHA between March 1 – December 31, 2020 (“COVID Requirements or Guidance”), then such borrower will be exempt from any reduction in its forgiveness amount stemming from a reduction in FTE employees during the covered period. The SBA guidance provides that such documentation must include copies of applicable COVID Requirements or Guidance for each business location and relevant borrower financial records. Unfortunately, the SBA did not define or specify what constitutes “relevant borrower financial records.”
Companies generally included as eligible for this protection include restaurants, theatres, and trade show vendors.
The SBA did not provide much guidance on what could constitute a reduction due to indirect compliance with COVID Requirements or Guidance. The SBA, however, did provide an example of a company that would qualify for the exception. Specifically, the SBA indicated that a beauty supply store that sells products at a physical location and online, which was required to close its store due to a local rule that was promulgated based on a COVID Requirement or Guidance issued by the CDC, would be able to show that its business activity was reduced due to compliance with COVID Requirements or Guidance.
The following list illustrates the types of companies that could potentially be included as indirectly affected by the compliance requirements. These companies may be able to make a reasonable argument that their business levels were reduced as an indirect result of compliance with COVID Requirements or Guidance. However, subject to any further guidance from the SBA, we would anticipate that these companies would need to discuss this point with their respective lenders since the lenders need to sign off on the proposed loan forgiveness application.
Parking Lot Owner – If the company’s business is for patrons of a theatre, restaurant, or mass transportation.
Tent Rental Company – If the company’s business is for large gatherings (e.g., weddings, graduation parties, or other events)
Music / Dance School – If the company’s primary business is in-person lessons
Employee Tool – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has created an online tool to help workers determine whether they qualify for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The tool works by posing a series of questions that help employees assess whether the paid leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to their employer. Once employees learn the provisions do apply, the tool then assists them in determining whether they qualify for FFCRA paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave. The DOL is also developing a similar tool for employers.
Summer Camp Guidance - The DOL has clarified when employees may take paid leave under the FFCRA for the COVID-19-related closure of a summer camp, summer enrichment program or other summer program. The clarification appears in Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-4. The FFCRA allows employees to take leave from work necessitated by the closing of the employee’s child’s place of care - including summer camps and enrichment programs - for COVID-19-related reasons.
The Bulletin directs Wage and Hour investigators, in evaluating whether an employer improperly denied FFCRA leave, to consider whether there is evidence of a plan for the child to attend the camp or program, or whether it is more likely than not that the child would have attended the camp or program had it not closed. However, the Bulletin notes that a parent’s mere interest in a camp or program is generally not enough. The Bulletin says the “multitude of possible circumstances” precludes a one-size-fits-all rule, but it mentions current enrollment in, recent prior attendance at, and acceptance on the waitlist of a camp or program as possible indicators of a plan for a child to attend.
STATE & LOCAL LEGAL UPDATES
Minimum Wage - The current federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 per hour. However, many states have adopted minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate. When the state rate and the federal rate are different, employers must pay their employees the higher rate. Click the following link to view a list of states that have announced new minimum wage rates for July 1, 2020.
Employee Leave Laws - In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, states have passed new laws and issued new regulations and guidance about employee leave taken for COVID-19 reasons. Click the following link to read our HR Compliance Bulletin – States Update Employee Leave Requirements for Coronavirus.
Cell Phones While Driving - Joining a number of states with existing laws, the following states passed legislation, with a July 1st effective date, that prohibits the use of handheld cell phones while driving - these laws also need to be followed by employees while driving as part of their job responsibilities:
- South Dakota
Chicago Fair Workweek (Predictive Scheduling) - The Fair Workweek Ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2020. Employees are covered by the ordinance if they work in one of seven “covered” industries (Building Services, Healthcare, Hotels, Manufacturing, Restaurants, Retail, and Warehouse Services) for a company that has at least 100 employees globally (250 employees and 30 locations for a restaurant). Covered employees are those who work a majority of time in Chicago, in a covered industry and earn $50,000 per year (salary) or $26 per hour (hourly) or less. This includes temp workers on assignment for 420 hours within an 18-month period.
Covered employees are given:
- Advance notice of work schedule (10 days beginning July 1, 2020)
- Right to decline previously unscheduled hours
- 1 hour of Predictability Pay for any shift change within 10 days
- Right to rest by declining work hours less than 10 hours after the end of previous day’s shift
How does the COVID-19 outbreak impact the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance?
- If COVID-19 causes a material change to an Employer’s operations that creates the need for a schedule change, the Employer is exempt from certain provisions of the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance (right to decline, predictability pay, and pay for cancelled hours and shifts) for the Work Schedule during which the change takes place, as well as the following Work Schedule. This exception is outlined in the Rule Pertaining to COVID-19 and Chapter 1-25 of the Municipal Code of Chicago.
Oregon Pregnancy Rights – In 2019, the State of Oregon passed legislation to protect pregnant and lactating employees. Under the new law, covered employers are required to provide employees with written notice of the new protections related to limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions by:
- posting notice signs in a “conspicuous and accessible” location on the premises where employees work;
- providing written copies of the notice to new employees at the time of hire;
- providing written copies of the notice to all existing employees by June 29, 2020; and
- providing another written copy of the notice to an employee within 10 days after the employer receives notice that she is pregnant.
Washington’s Overtime Rules – The State of Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has updated the employment rules that determine which workers in Washington are required by law to be paid at least minimum wage, earn overtime pay, and receive paid sick leave and other protections under the state Minimum Wage Act. Under the approved changes, the minimum pay a salaried worker must receive to be considered exempt would increase incrementally to 2.5 times the state minimum wage by 2028. Small employers (with 1-50 employees) will have a more gradual phase-in schedule to give them additional time to comply with the new rules compared to large companies (51 or more employees). The effective date for the first threshold increase is July 1, 2020.
Looking for further discussion on this topic? You can click here to listen to Employco’s most recent podcast, “July 1st Legal Updates.”
In this podcast : Rob, Scott, and Jason discuss legal updates from across the country for July 1st, including: hands-free driving laws, updated overtime rules in Washington, minimum wage increases across multiple states and municipalities, the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance with predictive scheduling, and more.
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Employco’s HR podcast offers listeners valuable insight into employment-related topics. In a roundtable format, Employco’s executive team discusses current legislative and strategic issues related to all areas of human resources. Topics range from labor law compliance, recruitment, employee engagement, retention, compensation and benefits, and employee relations.
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