Governor Cuomo’s most recent executive order requires employees “present in the workplace” to wear “face coverings” when in “direct contact with customers or members of the public.”  The order further requires that employers pay for and provide such face coverings.  The order is effective Wednesday night, April 15, 2020 at 8:00pm.

Continue Reading Cuomo Orders Employers to Provide “Face Coverings” for External-facing Employees

On April 3, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed the 2021 New York State budget, which included paid sick leave for employees in New York State.  Yes – paid sick leave that can be taken for normal, non-pandemic illnesses, among other reasons.

While society remains upended by COVID-19, Governor Cuomo stated, “we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that’s why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important.”  State-wide sick leave – which surely would have received more attention but for immediate COVID-19 related concerns – requires New York employers to review their paid time off and sick leave policies.

Continue Reading Permanent Paid Sick Leave Coming to New York State in 2021

On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7V, ordering Connecticut employers to take “additional protective measures to reduce the risk” of COVID-19 transmission. The Department of Economic and Community Development supplemented the Executive Order with its “Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers,” i.e., specific, “legally binding statewide rules prescribing such additional protective measures.” Continue Reading Connecticut Issues Binding Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act’s (“FFCRA”) swift enactment left employers scrambling to interpret its provisions.  Fortunately, the Department of Labor has issued temporary regulations that resolve many common questions and scenarios.  Final regulations are expected on April 6th.

The FFCRA provides two types of paid leave: the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”).  You can read about the basic provisions of FFCRA here.  This post summarizes some critical issues concerning FFCRA implementation.

Continue Reading DOL Issues Temporary Regulations Detailing FFCRA Paid Leave Rules

The federal Department of Labor (DOL) continues to update its Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) FAQ leading up to the April 1, 2020 implementation. Over the past week, the DOL has supplemented the FFCRA FAQ several times to provide guidance and clarifications concerning lingering questions. Some of the recent clarifications we find helpful are below.

Continue Reading Department of Labor Continues to Update FAQ Concerning Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On Wednesday night, the Senate passed unanimously (96-0) a $2 trillion emergency relief bill. The measure would constitute the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history. Key provisions include:

Continue Reading Senate Passes Massive Coronavirus Aid Package; Would Provide Financial Relief for Employers and Employees

Updating our prior Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) guidance, today the Department of Labor issued a model poster concerning FFCRA rights and responsibilities. The poster is accessible at: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

The FFCRA requires covered employers post in a conspicuous place on its premises a notice of FFCRA requirements. For covered employers with remote work forces, we recommend emailing the DOL notice to employees, posting on an intranet, or otherwise disseminating via means accessible to all employees.

 

Yesterday, the Department of Labor issued preliminary guidance concerning the implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”), which was passed just six days ago.  The guidance provides some clarity on a few key issues:

Continue Reading Department of Labor Releases Preliminary Guidance Concerning the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Last week, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees expanded family and medical leave and paid sick leave benefits for Coronavirus-related reasons.  The FFCRA creates for certain private employers a refundable paid sick leave credit and paid child care leave credit that are intended to immediately and fully reimburse these employers, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.

Continue Reading IRS and DOL Preview How Employers Can Recoup Costs of Providing Paid Leave to Employees for Coronavirus-Related Absences

Effective at noon on March 24, 2020, Massachusetts will become the latest state to close non-essential businesses in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.  As covered here previously, Connecticut and New York issued substantially similar executive orders in days immediately prior.  The Massachusetts order identifies “essential” businesses, orders the closing of non-essential businesses and organizations, and prohibits gatherings of more than ten people, with limited exceptions.  The order will remain in effect until April 7, 2020, but will likely be extended at a later date.

Massachusetts essential services are comprehensively set forth here.  The order also affirmatively encourages non-essential business to “continue operations remotely” where possible, and specifically encourages food and beverage establishments to offer take-out and delivery services, so long as social distancing can be maintained.

The essential services guidance is subject to amendment, but appears to be much more detailed than New York or Connecticut’s materially substantially similar orders.  Each state’s respective order appears to be based upon advisory federal guidance.  We urge you to review the Massachusetts list in full to assess whether your services, or the services you are seeking, are essential.  Several categories of services are deemed essential and summarized as follows:

  • Healthcare, Public Health, and Human Services: In addition to the front-line medical personnel battling COVID-19, the order explicitly deems essential many classes of services that support them, including but not limited to, blood donors, hospital administrators and support staff, workers in non-COVID-19-related in-patient and out-patient facilities, pharmacy employees, workers who support economically disadvantaged populations, and mortuary workers.
  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and First Responders: Police and Fire Departments, Emergency Medical Technicians, 911 operators, and various employees that support those functions.
  • Food and Agriculture: In addition to employees at supermarkets and restaurants, all manner of workers who impact the food supply chain, including food manufacturers, farm workers, workers supporting seafood and fishermen, food testing lab employees, and animal agriculture employees, are essential.
  • Energy: Workers related to electricity, petroleum, natural and propane gas, and steam are deemed essential.
  • Transportation and Logistics: Services related to ground, air, rail, and water transit are essential. Amongst the essential explicitly included are (1) rental car operators, and (2) automotive repair shops, (3) mass transit workers, and (4) public and private postal and shipping workers.
  • Public Works: Includes workers that support public works systems including roads, bridge and sewers, as well as “plumbers, electricians, exterminators, inspectors and other service providers” that may fix problems at your residence.
  • Communications: Employees that support communications infrastructure, the media, and customer support staff are amongst the essential.
  • Information Technology: Workers who provide public or private information technology services, and support staff required for them, including janitorial personnel, are essential.
  • Other Community Based Essential Functions and Government Operations: This broad category contains varied services including weather forecasters, educators, hotel workers, critical government workers, workers in sober homes, pet supply stores, laundromats, and places of worship. If you do not see your business function listed elsewhere, check this category carefully.
  • Critical Manufacturing: “Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains including personal protective equipment and hygiene products, transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base.”
  • Hazardous Materials: Nuclear facility and other hazardous materials workers are essential.
  • Financial Services: Workers essential to financial systems and consumer access to money.
  • Chemical: Workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains.
  • Defense Industrial Base: Workers who support the federal government and military.

If not listed, business may request an essential designation through the following link: https://www.mass.gov/forms/essential-service-designation-request. Related questions can be submitted to covid19.biz@mass.gov.

Murtha attorneys are available (remotely) to help you and your business make sense of Massachusetts’ guidance during these trying times.