Pennsylvania and Philadelphia End Mandatory Telework

On April 4, 2021, Pennsylvania ended its mandatory telework order that had been in effect for almost a year. Philadelphia followed suit and ended its telework requirement for offices. Telework is still strongly encouraged, but employers may now bring employees back to the workplace, so long as they continue to follow and enforce other federal, state and local COVID-19 mitigation measures.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

The Workplace In The Time Of Coronavirus (Part I): Legal Guidelines For Navigating The Upheaval

In the middle of last week, Twitter asked its 5000 employees to work remotely, and soon thereafter LinkedIn, Square and Lyft did the same. Microsoft, SAP, JPMorgan Chase and hundreds of other major employers have imposed sharp restrictions on travel, domestic as well as international. Facebook, Stanford University, and Google have canceled long-planned business conferences and events.

Workplace practices are shifting on a daily basis. So too are employment patterns: Doordash, Instacart, Amazon Prime and other delivery services report increases in demand for workers, while restaurants and entertainment venues are reducing hours and laying off workers. As this is written, United Airlines announces significant reductions to routes, and unpaid leaves of absence and/or reduced schedules for employees.

The other public health emergencies of the recent past—SARS in 2005, The H1N1 flu virus in 2009, and Ebola in 2014—brought only temporary workforce shifts. It’s too soon to say if the coronavirus will bring longer term workforce impacts, and how employers might respond. Employers though now are faced with responding to immediate workforce challenges.

To address these immediate challenges we can bring in Ms. Eve Klein, the head of the 75 attorney Employment Labor Benefits and Immigration (ELBI) Practice Group at Duane Morris LLP. There aren’t many labor and employment issues that Klein hasn’t addressed in the more than 30 years she’s been in practice. She has counseled employers through the previous public health emergencies, as well as other economic disruptions.

Over the past week she and other attorneys in the ELBI Group have received hundreds of inquiries from companies asking about their options and responsibilities in light of the numerous labor and employment laws on the local, state and federal levels (laws governing worker safety, worker privacy, wage and hour requirements, and protections for workers with disabilities to name a few). Coronavirus workplace management today, as might be expected, is the overwhelming employment concern of companies, large and small.

Klein and other ELBI attorneys have drafted a lengthy memo (updated regularly) summarizing the wide range of inquiries, and setting out very general guidelines. Here are five of the topic areas and guideline summaries—indicating the current main concerns, as well as the complexities in balancing business continuity with worker safety and preferences, and the legal edifice.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris attorney Michael Bernick, please visit the Forbes website.

Coronavirus and the Workplace: A Quick Reference Guide for Employers

With no signs of slowing down, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, presents a potentially serious risk to the safety and welfare of employees and the financial health of companies. Employers must be prepared to address COVID-19 related issues in the workplace without violating employees’ rights and without causing unnecessary confusion.

What Should Employers Do to Protect Their Workforce?

There is no known vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, and thus the best way to protect the workplace is to avoid exposure to the virus. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations, employers should:

  • Encourage employees to cleanse their hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based rub, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and cover their coughs or sneezes with a tissue.
  • Review cleaning operations to ensure frequently touched surfaces are disinfected regularly.
  • Encourage employees to avoid contact with sick people and to stay home if they are sick.

Personal protective equipment is a must for healthcare workers, however, it is not likely necessary for employees who are well, according to the CDC. If an employer receives a request from an employee to wear masks or gloves, employers should consider the requests with three issues in mind: whether the employee (1) has traveled to or from an area where COVID-19 is prevalent; (2) is exhibiting symptoms of the virus or has an underlying health condition; or (3) has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. The employer may also consider directing such employee not to report to work for a period of at least 14 days or longer, based on current CDC advice.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.