Last Updated on 3/30/2020
As employers throughout the U.S. struggle to maintain their businesses, keep workers safe, and transition some employees to work-from-home arrangements in light of the coronavirus pandemic, various federal government agencies have posted useful resources to answer questions and provide essential guidance about relevant workplace laws and regulations.
From the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), multiple agencies have established comprehensive coronavirus resource pages to help employers navigate this national health crisis.
Paid Sick Leave: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has created an overview of paid sick leave requirements during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, all businesses with less than 500 employees must post a newly required Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) paid sick leave poster in the workplace.
Wage & Hour and Employee Leave: The DOL’s COVID-19 resource center includes helpful guidance regarding wage & hour issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act during the pandemic, as well as Q&A’s on applying the Family and Medical Leave Act during any widespread health emergency;
Business Loans and Economic Assistance: In late March, to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. The Act addresses business loans, unemployment benefits, retirement plans, tax credits, and executive compensation. Additionally, the Small Business Administration has established an online COVID-19 assistance page for businesses seeking economic relief during the global pandemic. Similarly, the IRS has established a Coronavirus Tax Relief web page.
Safety & Health Regulations: OSHA’s safety and health web page addressing the coronavirus health crisis includes a useful overview of which OSHA standards and record keeping rules apply during the current pandemic;
Cybersecurity Concerns: For employers shifting a portion of their workforce to work-from-home roles, CISA has posted a coronavirus resource page that includes cybersecurity alerts and guidance for telecommuting programs;
Medical Privacy: For employers with 15 or more employees who have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released guidance addressing reasonable accommodations, medical privacy issues, and temperature checks during the COVID-19 outbreak;
Military Leave (National Guard): Employers with employees who are members of the national guard must follow the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA) if these employees are called into active duty. The DOL’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) publishes a pocket guide on USERRA that includes a checklist for employers.
Essential Industries: As stay-at-home directives come into effect or loom on the horizon for many communities, the State of Pennsylvania’s list of essential “life-sustaining businesses” can help companies in other states determine how likely they are to stay open during aggressive social distancing measures;
Cleaning & Disinfection Guidelines: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has included recommendations on cleaning and disinfecting potentially infected areas on its existing employer preparedness resource page;
Approved Disinfectants: To aid in effective cleaning & disinfecting to prevent the spread of the virus, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of disinfectants approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Employers and their key managers should review these resources to ensure they understand the most current employment-related guidance, particularly when professional legal advice is not readily available. These resources should also be regularly re-visited to check for any updates.