Illinois and other states are now on the second week of the extraordinary executive orders colloquially referred to as the “shelter in place” or “stay-at-home” orders.  Illinois’ version, COVID-19 Executive Order 8 (the “Order”), was issued by Governor J.B. Pritzker on March 20, 2020, is effective through at least April 7, 2020, but will likely be extended.  The requirements of the Order, and the practical takeaways from it for employers struggling to remain open for business and protect their workforces, are instructive to employers in any jurisdiction. A Kelley Drye Client Advisory addressing compliance with Stay-at-Home Orders is located here.

As in other states, the Order generally requires all individuals living in Illinois to stay at home unless they are leaving their home for Essential Activities, Essential Government Functions, or to Operate Essential Businesses and Operations. As summary of Essential Businesses and Operations is contained below.

Continue Reading Lessons from Illinois’ Shelter in Place Orders

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued the first round of guidance regarding the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).

This guidance includes: Fact Sheet for EmployersFact Sheet for Employees; and Questions and Answers.  Although much of the DOL’s guidance echoes what we already knew (or guessed) about the FFCRA, the DOL did address some issues that employers have been grappling with since its enactment last week.

Below is a summary of the pertinent highlights:

Continue Reading New DOL Guidance Puts Employers on Notice: FFCRA Takes Effect on April 1

Not to be upstaged by the President, and just as the Senate was voting on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (“FFRCA”), New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law paid sick leave legislation to mandate paid sick leave and provide job protection for ALL New York employees, including those who are quarantined or ordered to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19.

There are two major distinctions between the FFCRA and the New York Sick Leave Law:

  • The NY law applies to ALL employers, not just those with under 500 employees.
  • The NY paid sick leave law for employees with COVID-19 issues is effective immediately. The amendments to New York Labor Law mandating state-wide paid sick leave go into effect in 180 days. This article focuses on the COVID-19 portion of the law.

Continue Reading NYS Enacts COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Legislation—Effective Immediately

On March 18, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”), which creates the Family Medical Leave Expansion Act and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act in order to provide protections for employees who need to take leave during the COVID-19 health crisis. Employers should be prepared for the below provisions to take effect on April 1, 2020.  Below is a brief summary of the salient points of these new laws and the circumstances under which paid sick leave and the expanded family leave will be available to employees.

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Now What?

MARCH 24, 2020 AT 1:00PM EST

Is your company ready? Do you have questions about the new law? Join Kelley Drye’s Labor and Employment co-chairs Barbara Hoey and Mark Konkel and senior associate Diana Hamar as they take a deep dive in the new law and the circumstances under which paid sick leave and the expanded family leave will be available to employees, share practical advice and discuss potential hidden issues such as WARN.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A RECORDING

On March 18, the Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act by a vote of 90-8.

  • The Senate did not make any further changes to the House-passed bill, meaning it will be sent to President Trump for his signature
  • The bill (including “technical corrections”) previously passed by the House will institute free coronavirus testing, establish paid leave policies, enhance Unemployment Insurance, expand food security initiatives, and increase federal Medicaid funding
  • A House Appropriations Committee summary is here and a backgrounder on the new paid leave provisions is here
  • Congressional passage of this second coronavirus response measures follows an initial $8.3 billion package enacted earlier this month (see yesterday’s update for more information)

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On the evening of Monday, March 16, the House amended the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) (HR 6201) by amending the bill with what are being called “technical corrections.”

The previous bill, passed by the House on March 14, contained two main centerpieces: (1) new paid Family and Medical Leave to deal with the COVID-19 “public health emergency”; and (2) emergency paid sick leave. The previous version of the bill, which we reported on here, placed a significant financial burden on employers (limited to those with under 500 employees) by requiring them to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for employees who went on leave for COVID-19 related reasons, including COVID-19 exposure, quarantine, or due to a school closing.

The amended version lessens this burden.  It still requires employers covered by the act to provide employees with two weeks of emergency paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons; however, only employees who are out due to a school closing would be entitled to the additional 10 weeks of paid leave (at two-thirds salary).

We stress none of this is law yet, and has to be voted on by the Senate.

A more detailed analysis of the new corrections can be found below.

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On March 14, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA” or “the Act”) (HR 6201). This bill is not yet a law, but probably will be voted on this week or next. If the bill is signed into law by the President (which he has promised to do), the law will take effect 15 days after signing.

The FFCRA contains two main centerpieces: (1) new paid Family and Medical Leave to deal with the COVID-19 “public health emergency”; and (2) emergency paid sick leave. This advisory addresses the most important aspects of the FFCRA. We have injected some initial guidance to employers in italics, but this advisory is not designed to address all of the many details of the Act.  Please look for a deeper dive and analysis from us when the law becomes effective.

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JOIN US: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 12:30 PM EST

Employers are in uncharted territory with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created complicated employment issues that continue to evolve by the hour. Join Kelley Drye’s Labor and Employment co-chairs Barbara Hoey and Mark Konkel and senior associate Diana Hamar as they share practical advice for employers looking to keep employees SAFE and CALM, while also keeping their BUSINESS FUNCTIONING.

Topics will include sick leave and other leaves of absence, work-from-home policies, health and safety, compensation, discrimination, and much more.

Click here to register.

As federal, state and local governments continue to develop their responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, employers may find themselves in uncharted territory as to how to deal with emerging employee issues.

There are three overriding rules that all employers should remember:

  1. Think safety first. Keeping those employees who are infected or at risk of infection at home to ensure that the rest of the workforce is safe should be the number one priority.
  2. Think about how you can keep your business going.  Make sure your work-from-home policies and technology are up to date, and remind employees how to use them.
  3. Avoid stereotypes. Do not allow employees to assume that people of certain ethnicities are at a higher risk than others. If you become aware of any discrimination or harassment—stop it immediately.

Below are some general answers to questions our clients have been asking.  However, please be aware that this is a very fact-specific and complex topic; COVID-19 related employment issues are evolving by the hour. Employers are cautioned to stay abreast of federal, state, and local government advisories, and to consult legal counsel before making employment decisions or changing policy.

Continue Reading Managing Your Workforce During COVID-19