The Toughest Problem Set: Navigating Regulatory and Operational Challenges on University Campuses

Because widespread, rapid COVID-19 testing remains unavailable in many locations, universities have had to find innovative ways to implement testing, tracing and isolation protocols to reduce the risk of transmission among students, faculty and staff. There is no one perfect protocol—all universities are in unchartered waters. But there are a few key components university administrators may want to consider and address. Access the article.

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DOL Provides Guidance on Tracking Telecommuters’ Work Hours

Employers must use reasonable diligence in tracking nonexempt telecommuters' work hours and may do this by providing a reporting procedure for unscheduled time, the US Department of Labor (DOL) stated in August 24 guidance. The workers then must be compensated for all reported work hours, even those not requested by the employer. In a recent article by the Society of Human Resource Management, McDermott partner Ellen Bronchetti explained that employers should have policies that prohibit working off the clock. "If an employer has an expectation that an employee was working from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and the employee works later at night responding to emails, that could lead to wage and hour liability." Access the article.

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Using Paid Time Off Funds to Provide Student Loan Relief to Employees

What do unused paid-time-off (PTO) days, student loan debt and the coronavirus have in common? An opportunity for employers to provide financial relief to employees who are increasingly putting off vacations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent article by the Society of Human Resource Management, Jeff Holdvogt, a partner in McDermott’s Chicago office, explained that more employees, particularly Millennials, are telling employers that benefits to help pay off student loan debt would go a long way to attracting and retaining them. Access the article.

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COVID-19 Safety Plans: What Employers Need to Know

COVID-19 safety plans are a way for employers to demonstrate to their employees, the public and, in certain cases, state governments that they have considered the risks associated with COVID-19 in their workplaces and have developed a response to these concerns. The plans establish and explain the policies, practices and conditions necessary to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards relating to worker and customer exposure to COVID-19. These plans may also incorporate guidance from the state department of health and industry specific guidelines issued via state executive orders. Access the article.

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Off-Duty Conduct: COVID-19 and Social Media Ranting—What’s an Employer to Do?

Many employers who recently reopened are now facing a new challenge—employee off-duty conduct. At stake are both workplace and customer safety as well as the company’s reputation. A recent webinar featuring McDermott’s Michael Sheehan, Ron Holland, Abigail Kagan and Brian Mead covers various scenarios employers are likely to face and provides practical strategies to navigate and mitigate potential risk. Access key takeaways.

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SDNY Vacates Portion of DOL Final Rule on Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On August 3, 2020, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down four parts of the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Final Rule implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). A copy of the court’s ruling is available here. The FFCRA provides COVID-19-related sick leave and family leave to employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Access the article.

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How Do You Handle More Layoffs?

One round of layoffs is bad enough for rank-and-file morale. Subsequent layoffs can be even tougher on remaining employees, who may mourn the loss of their colleagues and wonder if they will be next. Employers can take steps to limit the damage and avert potential liability problems before and during the layoff process. Open communications before and after layoffs, to the extent possible, can help workers come to terms with the layoffs. Under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, employees who are 40 years old or older are guaranteed time to think about whether or not to sign a release—21 days if only one person is being laid off, 45 days if two or more are laid off. After signing, they have another seven days to revoke the acceptance of the agreement. When the release is signed in exchange for a severance package, the separation agreement must list the job titles and ages of all employees in the organizational unit, showing which are being laid off and...

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In Spain, Employers Contend with Pandemic’s Changing Impact

Employers in Spain are contending with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to raise health and safety concerns. A resurgence of COVID-19 cases in July prompted some parts of the country to re-implement restrictions that had been lifted earlier. "Spain was among the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus," said Brian Cousin, head of the employment practice group at McDermott Will & Emery, in a recent article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Employers and HR professionals in Spain should monitor news about national and local restrictions and regulations, as well as new guidance issued by local health authorities, the Spanish Health Ministry and the World Health Organization, according to Cousin. "Local and regional requirements can change on a daily basis," he said. Access the article.

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