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What to Do When Scared Workers Do Not Respond to Work Due to COVID-19

Some essential workers are refusing to go to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Their employers must weigh the employees’ legal rights and understandable health concerns with the organizations’ business needs. It can be a tough balancing act.

In a recent article, McDermott Partner Pankit Doshi said employers may relax documentation requirements due to the difficulty some employees could have obtaining access to medical providers during the pandemic and to encourage ill employees to stay away from work.

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Can Companies Be Held Liable When Their Employees Fall Ill with Coronavirus?

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not released specific standards covering COVID-19, Michelle Strowhiro, a partner in the Los Angeles office of McDermott Will & Emery, is quoted in a recent ABA Journal article saying that employers could face risks under Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause if they don’t take steps to protect their workplace and ensure it is not exposed to individuals who may have contracted the virus.

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Recently Updated | COVID-19 FAQs for US Employers

How should US employers approach the Coronavirus? With rapid developments in local, state and federal guidance and law, the appropriate approach for each employer will vary depending on the nature of the work, industries served, location(s), size, amongst other considerations. We recently updated these FAQs to provide you with the latest developments and best practices for your business.

Access the FAQ here.

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H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First) is now law and becomes effective April 2, 2020. For employers with less than 500 employees, and in certain situations for employees affected by coronavirus, Families First requires that employers provide two weeks of paid sick leave in certain situations and provide subsidized leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Tax credits will help to subsidize these requirements for affected employers. An outline of the legislation is provided.

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Families First Coronavirus Response Act Mandates Employer-Provided Coverage for COVID-19 Testing

As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”), Congress eliminated patient cost-sharing for Coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic testing and testing-related services provided under any employer-sponsored group health plan. This impacts all employer plans, insured and self-funded, of all sizes. The provisions are effective as of March 18 and will continue on a temporary basis for at least 90 days unless extended by the Department Health and Human Services (HHS).

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Coronavirus National Emergency Declaration Permits Employers to Offer Tax-Favored Financial Assistance to Employees

On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the “Declaration”) due to extraordinary circumstances resulting from Coronavirus. This Declaration opens up new methods for employers to provide tax-favored financial assistance to employees who are affected, directly or indirectly, by the virus.

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Coronavirus Resource Center | Preparedness Planning for Businesses

In our global economy, Coronavirus (COVID-19) raises serious concerns for employers in all industries. Workers may be on the front lines caring for patients and developing vaccines, travelling for business, or in close contact with individuals who travel or may have been affected. At this time, there is no vaccine or medication approved to prevent or treat the COVID-19 disease. Therefore, preparedness and prevention are crucial. Frontline responders must be especially vigilant as they deliver care and anticipate the challenges this uncharted territory presents.

McDermott’s Coronavirus Resource Center, brought to you by a multi-disciplinary team, will keep you informed of the latest developments and provide comprehensive insight to help you navigate this crisis with your employees, including:

  • Frequently asked questions for US and multi-national employers
  • Recent news updates
  • Podcasts
  • Upcoming events

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HAVE EMPLOYEES IN NEW YORK CITY? Earned Sick Time Act Requires Notice by TODAY, May 1

New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act (Act) requires all Covered Employers to provide all Covered Employees with written notice of the new law by today, May 1, 2014.

Covered Employers means all private employers other than government agencies, federal work study programs and some scholarship programs, as explained in the Department of Consumer Affair’s (DCA) published FAQs with five or more Covered Employees.

Covered Employees means all employees who work in New York City more than 80 hours in a calendar year, except for certain licensed individuals listed in the FAQs.

Employers must provide the notice to employees in English and in the employee’s primary language if that language is listed on the DCA’s website, which currently includes Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French-Creole (Haitian Creole), Italian, Korean or Russian.  The Act requires that employers actually give the notice to employees (simply posting the notice is not sufficient) and requires employers to maintain records that demonstrate compliance with the law.

The Act, which went into effect on April 1, 2014, requires Covered Employers to provide Covered Employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave on a defined accrual schedule set forth in the Act.  Earlier versions of the law set the threshold at 15 or more employees, but the final publication sets the threshold at five (to see the final published law, follow the link to the Act above, and open the “text” tab next to the “history” tab).

This paid sick leave requirement also applies to employers who have one or more domestic workers who have been employed at least one year and who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year.  Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid sick leave to employees.

To comply with the Act, Covered Employers should ensure they have provided the notices to Covered Employees by today, May 1, and updated sick leave policies to account for these new requirements.

For more information regarding the Earned Sick Time Act, please contact your regular McDermott lawyer or:

Heather Egan Sussman: + 1 617 535 4177

Maureen O’Brien: + 312 984 3242

Jonathan Boyles: + 1 212 547 5550

Ashley McCarthy: + 212 547 5794

Sabrina Dunlap: + 1 617 535 4014

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