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Part Two of the COVID-19 Roadmap Series: Creating a COVID-19 Operations Infrastructure

April 27, 2020 | Blog | By Katharine Beattie, Emma Follansbee

With the reopening of the economy on the horizon, employers are looking ahead to welcoming employees back to the traditional workplace. Business operations will look vastly different during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In Part 2 of our Roadmap Series, we outline important operational planning steps and actions employers can take now to successfully and safely bring employees back to the workplace. Future posts in this series will address many of these issues more in-depth, so be sure to stay tuned.
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On April 12, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.16 mandating that essential businesses in New York require their employees to wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. The New York State Department of Health has now issued guidance regarding the order, which went into effect April 15th. We highlight the provisions of the order and the DOH guidance below.
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COVID-19 Updates in the DMV: Guidance for D.C., Maryland & Virginia Employers

April 23, 2020 | Blog | By Jennifer Budoff, Danielle Bereznay

With the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States, the federal and state governments have scrambled to adjust existing legislation, or create new legislation, to account for the “new normal.” It is no surprise that many employers, especially those that operate in multiple jurisdictions, are struggling to keep up. Here we have summarized recent COVID-19 related updates in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region.
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Updated: Summary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s FFCRA Regulations

April 22, 2020 | Blog | By Nicole Rivers, Michael Arnold, Katharine Beattie

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has released its 124-page temporary regulations of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).
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Coronavirus Molecule

Part One of the COVID-19 Roadmap Series: Introduction

April 22, 2020 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin

The rapid onset of the coronavirus crisis stripped many employers of the opportunity to prepare an orderly retreat from the physical workplace. While we do not know what the “normal” post-pandemic American workplace will look like, employers should plan now for this transformation.  The Mintz Employment, Labor and Benefits section is pleased to provide this Roadmap for the Post-Pandemic Workplace series that will provide guidance on critical issues employers should focus on as they prepare for what promises to be a very different workplace.
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Employers in essential or “critical infrastructure” industries face significant challenges in maintaining business operations while ensuring the health and safety of their employees and their community. On April 8, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) relaxed its previous guidance on critical infrastructure workers returning to work or continuing to work after being “potentially exposed” to COVID-19. The interim guidelines now allow critical infrastructure workers who have had potential exposure to COVID-19 to return to work more quickly, or to continue working, provided the workers (i) are and remain asymptomatic; and (ii) that their employer(s) implement certain policies and/or protocols to protect their employees, as well as the community.
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The NLRB's Final Joint-Employer Rule Will Soon Be In Effect

April 17, 2020 | Blog | By Morgan G. Tanafon

Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued its final rule for defining joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The new rule retreats from the more expansive joint-employment principle in recent years, returning instead to the agency’s prior, more restrictive standard. As this new rule becomes effective on April 27, businesses should become familiar with the new definition and how it affects potential joint-employer status.
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Bringing positive news for employers and a welcome distraction from the COVID-19 crisis, the United States Supreme Court recently held that for claims of racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (“Section 1981”), plaintiffs are obligated to meet the more stringent “but-for” causation standard at every stage of a lawsuit.
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On April 11, 2020, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury issued a set of FAQs intended to assist stakeholders grappling with the provisions of the FFCRA and the CARES Act governing group health plans, health insurance issuers, and others. This post reports on the FAQ highlights.
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Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) released updated guidance addressing steps companies can take to keep their workplaces safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a good resource for companies preparing a plan for handling the COVID-19 pandemic, or those who want to check their current plan against OSHA’s advice to identify areas for improvement.
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The cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose have each adopted paid sick leave measures to assist workers not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act during the COVID-19 crisis.
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The CARES Act is the third significant piece of federal legislation recently enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This post focuses on the provisions of the CARES Act that affect welfare benefit plans.
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COVID-19: Handling a Positive Diagnosis in the Workforce

April 8, 2020 | Blog | By Katharine Beattie, Morgan G. Tanafon

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to disrupt normal workplace operations, an increasing number of employers are facing the reality of employees testing positive for the virus – particularly in industries like healthcare, construction, transportation, or retail, where workers cannot necessarily telecommute. Employees may also report to work sick, or become sick at work, and show COVID-19 symptoms. Even though employers may be hoping for the best, it is best to have a plan for the worst. Employers should have clear plans and procedures in place to address confirmed or presumptive COVID-19 cases in the workplace, which will enable employers to take swift, appropriate actions to minimize risk for their employees and operations. The following are guidelines for steps to take in addressing these situations:
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UPDATED: Leave Tracking and Recordkeeping Under Covid-19: Adjusting for the New Normal

April 8, 2020 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin, Jennifer Budoff

One important question the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and other recent legislative changes raise for employers is how to track and account for employee leaves. While most employers already have systems in place to track employee absences, employers should review their pre-pandemic recordkeeping to account for the “new normal” and new laws. These updates are not only to account for the FFCRA and any other federal or state laws – including the potential application for tax credits – but also, just as importantly, in anticipation of the return to work of the employer’s workforce.
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Following the enactment of COVID-19 quarantine leave benefits in March, New York State has now enacted permanent paid sick leave measures, which will require New York employers to provide various amounts of sick leave to employees starting on January 1, 2021.  This post highlight the new requirements of the law.
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Beyond COVID-19’s devastating impact on public health is its second order effects on the U.S. and world economy. Businesses of all sizes need to trim costs. An obvious place to start is with contributions to 401(k) and other tax-qualified retirement plans. This post reviews the options for cost cutting available to employers under their defined contribution 401(k) and profit sharing plans.
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A timely and robust response to the COVID-19 virus demands the attention and resources of, and action by, federal and state regulators, employers, and individuals alike. The stakes could not be higher. State and local “shelter-in-place” orders have effectively, if not actually, resulted in widespread job losses for at least some indeterminate period of time.
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Summary of CARES Act for Employers

March 27, 2020 | Blog | By David Lagasse, Danielle Bereznay

Congress has now passed the CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF AND ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT OR CARES ACT – Federal government’s Phase III response to the health and economic impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump has pledged to sign the Act into law immediately.
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New York State to Provide Paid Sick Leave, Other COVID-19 Protections for Workers

March 27, 2020 | Blog | By Michael Arnold, Corbin Carter

As New York State announced that it had confirmed over 2,300 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law new requirements for New York State employees affected by the virus.  The new law was swiftly enacted in light of the urgent public health and economic crises facing the state, and goes into effect immediately.  It mandates that New York employers offer paid sick leave and job protections for workers quarantined as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
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UPDATED: New York Issues Important Guidance on COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law

March 24, 2020 | Blog | By Michael Arnold, Corbin Carter

New York State issued guidance on March 20th detailing answers to many frequently asked questions about the newly implemented COVID-19 quarantine leave law. We summarized the key components of the emergency law, which was enacted on March 18, 2020 and became effective immediately, in a previous blog post. In short, employers are immediately obligated to provide certain paid/unpaid leave (with duration and pay status varying based on the employer’s size), job protection, and expanded paid family leave and disability benefits to employees who are subject to a government-issued order of mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.
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