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July 31, 2020 / by Christina Hines

COVID-19 Resources and FFCRA

Here at Blakeman & Associates we help our clients understand regulations and best practice by providing guidance aimed at reducing employment risks.

This issue’s “Hot Topic”… wait for it… COVID compliance.  I’m personally tired of this topic and wouldn’t blame anyone else who is!  Unfortunately, this virus isn’t going anywhere and guidance is changing regularly so what can you do?  You can reach out to our HR Team with your specific situation.  We base our responses on requirements, proven best practices, and stay up to date on CDC, OSHA, and DOL guidance. 

Managing Leave & Return to Work

I’ll deal directly with a common question today managing leave and return to work.   The Families First Coronavirus Response Act affectionately referred to as FFCRA is a legal requirement for paid leave that may apply based on the details of the situation. 

This is a F I R S T!   Paid leave on a federal level and many experts believe we will see more of this in the near future.  Employers should know what the requirements are, develop and follow a consistent leave and return to work process.

We recommend keeping the FFCRA poster handy there is a link below. The FFCRA poster should be posted in a common area from April 2020 thru December 2020. Being knowledgeable about the contents, and having a process starting with a form, and involving clear communication with employees before, during, and after the leave is a must.  All employees would fill out a leave form which also satisfies the documentation requirements for claiming the tax credit reimbursement allowed. 

This process should be followed consistently to show compliance to FFCRA and also to prove every employee was treated the same.  Discrimination lawsuits over COVID-19 Leave and Return to work have already started rolling in.

It is also a good idea to be familiar with the DOL FAQs found in the links section below.

Each time an employee is unable to work, even remotely due to a COVID reason you should be asking yourself; do I need to pay them? You can determine this after you receive (preferably in writing) from the employee why they can not work. Next, to determine how to proceed you would compare the employee’s reason to the FFCRA poster’s covered reasons for absence.

The FFCRA is comprised of two types of paid leave.  One part is emergency paid leave (EPSLA).  The other EFMLEA expands FMLA for childcare reasons due to COVID only; reason #5 on the poster. Either 100% of or 2/3rds of an employee’s regular pay is required for up to a max of 80 hours or for up to 12 weeks.  There is also a max dollar figure. 

OSHA’s General Duty Clause: COVID-19 Considered Hazard

Under OSHA’s general duty clause employers are required to protect employees from known hazards and they now recognise COVID-19 as a known hazard.

You should be following CDC guidelines for the workplace in your specific industry.

If you haven’t already, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself:

 What return to work requirements do you have in place,?

Do you have a consistent process requiring tests?

Time or symptom return to work strategy or require a doctor’s release to a detailed job description? 

Did you know Blakeman offers a COVID-19 operations audit?

We will have trained/certified safety professionals audit your site for COVID-19 risk, help you develop a plan, and provide HR support for your COVID-19 related questions you encounter during and after the site audit.

You don’t have to figure out all of the above alone.  Phone a friend, at Blakeman & Associates for assistance or chat with us here!

Helpful Links:

FCCRA POSTER

https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

Department of Labor FAQ:

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions