COVID-19 has had a historic economic impact in the United States; there is no doubt we will continue, as individuals and organizations, for years to come. In the span of a few months, legislative action has required organizations to provide paid sick leave—a first in our nation’s history—and has resulted in the largest stimulus package that gave federal payments to millions of people so they could continue to maintain financial stability in the midst of furloughs, layoffs, and closures. In the last 10 years, workplaces have been increasingly encouraged to begin considering teleworking and remote capabilities for workers, and in the matter of days, many U.S. workers were moved out of the workplace to work from home. Organizations are now facing the challenge of returning workers to the workplace, and to do so, they must consider a multitude of new hurdles including staying compliant with federal and state laws that are rapidly changing. At in2vate, our goal will continue to be to provide our clients with the support they need now.
At in2vate, we focus on best practice education, so our first round of support to clients was presented via our Workplace Resource bulletins (for HR, business owners) and Best Management Practice bulletins (for managers, supervisors).
Workplace Resource Bulletins
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201) The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed into law on March 18, 2020 and will impact various types of employers. This article overviews various significant changes that will take place under the Act: expanded food assistance, expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act, paid sick leave, COVID-19 copays and testing fees, emergency unemployment insurance, business exceptions, and tax credits.
- COVID-19 Law Interplay Employers should endeavor to make decisions consistent with the various workplace protections and rules that exist even during pandemic.
- COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions This article provides answers to some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 and about maintaining workplace compliance.
- COVID-19 Resources A collection of reliable and frequently updated resources supplied by the CDC, WHO, and other government agencies to keep you updated on the latest COVID-19 information.
Best Management Practice Bulletins
- Guidance on Successfully Working from Home (April 5th)
- Leading through Pandemic, Part 1 (April 12th)
- Leading through Pandemic, Part 2 (April 19th)
- Staying Cyber Safe During Pandemic (April 26th)
- COVID 19: Engaging Remote Workers, Part 1 (May 3rd)
- COVID-19: Engaging Remote Workers, part 2 (May 10th)
Support for Workplace Procedures
This guide will aid organizations who are preparing to return their workforces to physical working locations. This guide includes various important topics that address the unique challenges related to returning to work during/after pandemic. These topics include the following: recall procedures, workplace safety, policy and procedure changes, communications, COVID-19 positive case/expression of symptoms protocol, employee benefits, compensation, remote work, new-hire paperwork, unions, business continuity plans, business loan management, and additional resources.
This is a companion resource to the Return-to-Work Guide. This checklist breaks down the guide, so the steps are less overwhelming. We recommend using both, as the guide provides greater detail in some areas.
FFCRA Paid Leave Qualifying Scenarios
This chart outlines the scenarios in which employees are eligible for paid emergency sick leave (ePSL) or paid emergency family and medical leave (eFMLA) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA is a federal law, so all businesses with less than 500 employees must comply. These businesses have the option to opt out of the paid eFMLA, but they must comply with ePSL. This chart describes the qualifying scenarios, lists the employee eligibility criteria, and details how pay needs to be calculated in order to be compliant.
Checklist for Handling a Positive COVID-19 Test
This checklist will walk employers through some of the many steps they need to take when they have become aware an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. There is a difference between suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases, and while this checklist is directed at confirmed cases, many of the steps are the same for suspected (i.e. employee reports COVID-19-like symptoms) cases as well.
This document contains external links to print resources with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and the Department of Labor (DOL). At minimum, businesses with less than 500 employees are required to post employee rights under the FFCRA, which is included in this list. All posters are available in multiple languages.
Model Policies and Forms
Recall from Furlough Letter
This letter serves as notice and intent to bring an employee back to work from furlough. This model letter assumes At-Will status and does not address state-specific recall requirements. Organizations in states such as California, Georgia, Idaho, and Montana may have additional requirements with regard to advance notice, restoration (or non-restoration) benefits or compensation, or screening requirements such as drug and alcohol testing.
Temperature Screening Protocol and Notice
This document addresses two items: The first is a walkthrough of items employers need to consider when developing and adopting employee screening procedures; the second is a model notice of those procedures. Employers should develop a screening procedure, communicate that procedure to employees, and then implement consistently.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave (FFCRA) Policy
The passing of the Families First Coronavirus Act brought the requirement to provide employees with up to 80 hours of paid leave. At present this applies to organizations with less than 500 employees. This policy outlines all possible qualifying reasons for which Emergency Paid Sick Leave can be applied, the documentation needed, and other important notices. This policy is a temporary response and is in effect from April 1st, 2020 through December 31st, 2020.
Extended Family and Medical Leave (FFCRA) Policy
The passing of the Families First Coronavirus Act brought the requirement to provide employees with up to 80 hours of paid leave. At present this applies to organizations with less than 500 employees. This policy outlines all possible qualifying reasons for which Extended Family and Medical Leave can be applied, the documentation needed, and other important notices. This policy is a temporary response and is in effect from April 1st, 2020 through December 31st, 2020.
Request for Leave Under the FFCRA
This form can be adopted by organizations that are subject to the FFCRA requirements to provide either or both forms of paid leave: EPSL and/or EFML. This form addresses both types.
Designation of Leave Request Under the FFCRA
This letter is intended to be used by those administrators assigned the responsibility of managing leave under the FFCRA. Employers can use this form to designate (approve or deny) leave as requested under the FFCRA. Employers subject to traditional FMLA (50 or more employees) should be careful to consider an employee’s usage of traditional FMLA when designating EFML – employees are only entitled to 12-weeks of traditional FMLA and EFML combined and as defined by the calculation method used by the organization.
Workplace Re-Occupancy Safety Orientation, Manager Edition, 16:22 Min. (Module ID 2107, Category: COVID-19)
This training module provides managers with assistance in preparing veteran employees who are returning to work after furlough, lay-off, or an extended period of time working from home. Topics include: introduction of new cleaning and decontamination procedures; communication with employees and the availability of assistance from Human Resources; reacquainting employees with job tasks using a Work Hardening Program; Safety Manual review; job task observation; evaluation of employee training records; and review of general safety practices. A quiz is included at the end of the module.
Workplace Re-Occupancy Safety Orientation, Employee Edition, 23:23 Min. (Module ID 2108, Category: COVID-19)
This training module provides employees returning to work from an extended absence with a review of general safety rules and practices for accident prevention and provides information on what to do if an accident or injury occurs. Topics include: Re-familiarization of Workplace Practices and Procedures; New Practices/Procedures; Accident Prevention/Unsafe Conditions; Lifting and Material Handling; Fire Prevention and Protection; Housekeeping; Personal Protective Equipment; Respiratory Protection; Hazard Communication; Driver Safety; Bloodborne Pathogens; Electrical Safety; Lockout/Tagout; Ladders; Hand and Power Tools; Emergency Procedures; Accident/Injury Procedures; and Medical Aid. A quiz is included at the end of the module.
We are extremely fortunate at in2vate to have the capability to allow all our employees to work from home. Our decision to work from home was made after a brief leadership conference, and within hours, employees were notified and packed with the necessary tools before any state or local jurisdiction made mandates for organizations. This didn’t come without its own hurdles—there was technology to consider, especially in terms of maintaining our normal level of customer service and support. Our top concern, though, was communication; we knew it would be vital to go above and beyond in this area. Working remotely means employees no longer had the ability to spontaneously meet with their supervisor face-to-face, the coffee-cooler chats would go away, and we definitely lost the ability to go on team lunches.
However, what we worried about happening never came to fruition. Sure, the first three weeks were awkward as we implemented Monday 8 a.m. watercooler video chats for the entire organization and then moved into happy hours via Zoom® where teams played virtual games, but it was in the process that we learned our employees were closer than ever. This emphasis on making time to converse has greatly impacted every employee at in2vate in a positive way.
It’s also important to note the impact and change in our people processes. We implemented a new performance management program, successfully completed the first round of development discussions (or “check-ins” as we call them) in April, and will introduce a new method to appraising employee performance in June. All of this has been done, and continues to be done, while working remotely. We also completed the hiring and onboarding of a new employee in May while working remotely. These are no easy feats, but our employees and leaders have adapted in the most creative ways, and they’ve done so while staying compliant with the changing demands COVID-19 has forced upon us and many other organizations. We have a commitment to every employee in our care, and that responsibility drives everything we do and is one of the reasons we are a best-practice leader.