Following on from the Prime Ministers statement on Sunday evening, May 10th, setting out the next phase -Stay Alert- there was a general reaction of uncertainty about how this will translate for employers and employees in practical terms.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission continues to update its guidance regarding the interplay between COVID-19, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other EEO laws. Divided into seven sections, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws addresses employers’ frequently asked questions on disability-related inquiries and medical exams, hiring and onboarding, reasonable accommodations and returning to work in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.
The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the workplace continue. It is undeniable that the potential litigation arising out of COVID-19 will be far-reaching and there will be several areas that employers need to consider now and when the return to work phase commences in earnest.
In a matter of months the Coronavirus pandemic has not only changed the way millions of employees work but also the way they may now view the workplace, particularly how safe they feel within their workplace.
Update to our post of 7 April 2020
As of 27 April 2020, Singapore has reported more than 13,000 cases and 12 deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the number of new cases in the local communities have started to level off, many of the new cases are unlinked, pointing to a larger, as-yet undetected reservoir of cases in Singapore. As such, there is the continued need to be vigilant in enforcing social distancing and isolation measures.
To read the full text, please visit the Duane Morris & Selvam COVID-19 Resource Blog.
Duane Morris will host a webinar, “COVID19 Planning – Ramping Up vs. Flipping a Switch: Getting Back to Business as Usual?,” to be held on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. Duane Morris attorneys Meagan E. Garland, Teodora D. Purcell and Brooke B. Tabshouri will be the speakers. For more information and a link to register, please visit the firm website.
On April 7, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an emergency ordinance requiring private employers with 500 or more employees to provide public health emergency leave consistent with the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The Public Health Emergency Leave ordinance (PHELO) follows San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s proclamation of a state of emergency, state and local shelter-in-place orders and Bay Area school closures in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The ordinance will go into effect as soon as it is signed by Mayor Breed.
To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.
At some point, the biggest American companies are going to tell their employees it’s time to leave home and return to work.
That decision will be fraught with risk without widespread testing for the COVID-19 virus. For some industries, such as Wall Street banks, ubiquitous testing is essential to bringing back their workforce to offices around the globe. For other industries, such as automakers, plans are already being made to open factories as early as May.
The tension between getting up and running as soon as possible versus taking chances with the health of employees is both a moral and a legal quandry. Employers have a relatively low legal risk, but a high reputational one, if they rush people back to the office, said Jonathan Segal, an employment attorney at law firm Duane Morris who specializes in human resources and minimizing companies’ legal and business risks.
Employers the world over are facing unprecedented issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vietnam employers are no different. They need to be able to both respond rapidly and decisively to actual facts and formal and information government direction as it arises and simultaneously comply with legal obligations set out in law and statute. What trumps what?
President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill Friday, but some employers stepped up and started enacting or strengthening policies meant to help protect and provide for their workers before the federal government got in gear.
Temporary pay increases and expanded paid leave policies are among some of the benefits employers started offering as the nation grapples with the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that emerged at the end of 2019. […]
W. Michael Gradisek, who chairs the employee benefits and executive compensation practice at Duane Morris LLP, said that he has been fielding a lot of questions about continuing benefits to furloughed employees.
Companies are trying to do the right thing for their workers, Gradisek said, but while that might seem simple, it can actually be quite complicated.
Some employers have been trying to convey that while they can’t pay employee salaries while shut down, they still value the workers and want them to return when things are up and running again, he said.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty, but I don’t think people are totally throwing in the towel yet,” Gradisek said.
To read the full article, visit the Law360 website (subscription required).
Shelter-in-place. Social distancing. Elbow bumping instead of handshakes.
No more shared boxes of pizza. Massive stockpiling. Obsessive washing of hands.
The new habits and lexicon of the American workforce reflect the vocabulary of the COVID-19 coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December and has spread globally, striking home in all 50 states and ushering in new habits and social awareness — along with fear and anxiety. […]
‘Seismic’ changes ahead
Welcome to Remote America, a world in the making that is constantly in flux, with widespread flex-time and WFH adoption, unexpected tech challenges for benefits professionals, greater emphasis on mental health benefits and attention from HR on a myriad of new issues. […]
Michael Gradisek, the head of the benefits group at Philadelphia-based Duane Morris, said his employer clients have been asking mostly about the legal differences between layoffs and furlough, COBRA healthcare plans and compensation issues.
“Furlough is a term of art that is a temporary layoff, where we can keep staff on health, mental and vision, but those benefits depend on the insurance contract,” which is typically classified as unpaid leave, he says.
Benefits coverage is “case-by-case by each company and each contract. No good deed goes unpunished. What happens if we keep you on the plan, and someone ends up on a ventilator for two months? Those are the questions insurance carriers will be asking. That’s their job,” he noted from his home office, where he’s been in self-isolation since returning on Friday from a business trip from London.
Gradisek noted that in Europe, many of the bars and restaurants were open, and the crisis didn’t hit home for many Europeans until owners canceled the Premier League soccer games, similar to the NBA, NHL and preseason baseball shutdowns in the U.S. “My company said, ‘Glad you made it back. Don’t come in for two weeks,’ ” he says.
Their benefits practice has been “crazy busy and going berserk with calls” during the crisis, he says.
“Employers are starting to hoard cash, which is a smart thing. Can we voluntarily not make payments for executive comp plans and large payments? These are the questions we’re getting,” he says. “Some CEOs don’t want to take bonus money and put the company in a cash-strapped position.”
He noted various questions about delayed comp plans, and cited IRS code 409A, which does not allow for voluntary deferrals. “The IRS wants executives to take the money and pay the tax,” he says, noting that there are exemptions only if not deferring payments or paying bonuses may “jeopardize the solvency of the service recipient” or the company as a going concern.
“Is a million bucks going to stop the company from being a going concern? Employers are talking about it in reviews and discretionary bonuses. Those are all based on company and market conditions,” he says, noting one client that was weighing layoffs and reduction of certain staff salaries by 30%. […]