This page compiles a number of resources that are useful for employers as we adjust practices, set policy, and take action to protect our employees and provide safe workplaces.
WCI Coronavirus Letter from Fredrick Reese – March 18, 2020
Return to Work Guidance
Office Workers Favor Staggered 4-day Workweek – return to work survey results 8/3/2020
OSHA COVID-19 Videos – featured by the Dept of Labor 7/1/2020
Safe Actions for Employee Returns – a comprehensive framework from the National Safety Council 5/20/2020
Manufacturing Workers and Employers – guidance from the CDC and OSHA 5/12/2020
DES Returning to Work Guidance – unemployment changes during phase one 5/11/2020
Planning for Reopening the Workplace – legal article with considerations 4/27/2020
Preparing Your Workplace for Employee Returns – legal article with detailed guidance 4/20/2020
EOC Return to Work Guidelines – downloads a .pdf 12/6/2020
Example of Return to Work Guidelines – US Navy guidelines and flowchart
Employers Broadening Health Protections – 4/20/2020 survey report
Opening Up America Again – the Trump administration’s phased guidelines for states, employers, and individuals
US Stimulus Programs
PPP Loan Forgiveness Application – with instructions and calculation form
Loan Options Video – McGuire Wood & Bissette attorney Beth Lane explains the CARES Act loan options and how to calculate loans and forgiveness amounts
Paycheck Protection Program – SBA loan fact sheet from US Chamber of Commerce
CARES Act Summary – from WCI’s HR Answers Now 3/27/2020
The CARES Act – full text of the law as PDF
Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources – SBA loan options
SBA Disaster Loans – submission assistance information
SBA Bridge Loans – pilot program guide for download
Coronavirus Videos for Employers
Creating a Safe Work Environment presented by AdventHealth for WCI 5/20/2020
Recommended Personnel Screening Station presented by AdventHealth for WCI 5/20/2020
Unemployment Update (2 videos) featuring Lockhart Taylor of the NC Division of Employment Security 4/10/2020
Loan Options Under the CARES Act featuring McGuire Wood & Bissette attorney Beth Lane, explaining the programs for small businesses 4/16/2020
COVID-19 Legal Update #2 featuring McGuire Wood & Bissette attorney Sabrina Presnell Rockoff, explaining the FFCRA regulations 4/6/2020
COVID-19 Legal Update #1 featuring McGuire Wood & Bissette attorney Sabrina Presnell Rockoff, explaining the changes to FMLA under FFCRA 3/23/2020
Coronavirus Basics featuring Ellen Steele, with recommendations for employers 3/17/2020
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while at the same time reimbursing businesses.
DOL Now Enforcing FFCRA Paid Leave Protections – 4/20/2020 news release
Temporary Rule for FFCRA Paid Leave – DOL Regulations 4/1/2020
Questions & Answers about FFCRA – DOL Guidance
Employee Paid Leave Rights – DOL Guidance
Employer Paid Leave Requirements – DOL Guidance
POSTER: Employee Rights under FFCRA – printable PDF
Questions & Answers about FFCRA poster – DOL Guidance
Full Text of FFCRA Law – online PDF from the US Congress
Federal Compliance Guidance
EEOC questions and answers related to COVID-19 – EEOC Guidance updated 6/11/2020
FFCRA Paid Leave & Tax Credits – DOL Guidance
FLSA new Wage & Hour Opinion Letters – new DOL Guidance 3/26/2020
FLSA questions & answers related to COVID-19 – DOL Guidance
FMLA questions & answers related to COVID-19 – DOL Guidance
HIPAA Privacy and Novel Coronavirus – HHS Guidance
Other Federal Resources
Face Covering FAQs – OSHA Guidance 6/10/2020
OSHA 300 Reporting Enforcement Eased – OSHA Guidance related to COVID-19 4/10/2020
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program – DOL Guidance 4/10/2020
Employee Retention Credit FAQs – IRS Guidance on CARES Act
Paid Leave Tax Credits FAQs – IRS Guidance on FFCRA
Latest Information from the CDC – includes daily updates
North Carolina Resources
COVID-19 Unemployment Information for Individuals – NC Dept of Employment Security web page 8/3/2020
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – tip sheet for claiming PUA benefits 8/3/2020
Executive Order 147 (requiring face masks) – Summary: in manufacturing, where social distancing is difficult, all workers must wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six ( 6) feet of another person, as of 5:00 pm on June 26, 2020.
Understanding NC Unemployment Benefit Programs – NC DES information and FAQs 4/27/2020
How to Report NC Unemployment Fraud – NC DES web page for UI abuse reporting 4/27/2020
How to File an Attached Claim – NC DES instructions for employers 4/19/2020
WCI Guidance for NC Unemployment Benefits – 4/10/2020 updated document
Filing for Unemployment – tip sheet from NCDES
NC Dept of Health & Human Services – coronavirus webpage
FAQs for COVID-19 (updated 3/25/2020)
May an employer require an employee to use any available PTO or vacation/sick leave for their absences associated with COVID-19?
Yes, until the Families First Coronovirus Response Act (FFCRA) goes into effect on April 1. (Please see other information regarding eligibility and employer requirements in the FFCRA section above). Until then, employers may require employees to use any available PTO or vacation/sick leave for their absences associated with COVID-19. Commonly, employers have policies in place that state employees must use all available paid time off before utilizing unpaid time off.
What can employers do if an employee is out of paid-time-off and is absent from work due to COVID-19 related symptoms?
This answer depends on whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt. For non-exempt employees, employers must compensate employees for all hours worked. If a non-exempt employee is home from work but working remotely, then the employee must be compensated for all hours worked. However, if a non-exempt employee is absent from work and does not perform any services, the employee does not need to be paid for that time.
Exempt employees, on the other hand, should receive their full salary during any week where work is performed, with some exceptions. For instance, if an employer has a bona fide sick leave or PTO policy in place and an exempt employee either is not eligible for sick leave/PTO or has exhausted their sick/PTO hours, then employers can deduct only for full day absences assuming the employee performs no work during that day.
How do we address employee concerns about co-workers who appear sick and/or who may be from areas with known coronavirus cases?
Employers should be prepared to respond to employees who express reservations about working with employees or others who have returned from international travel or who are otherwise suspected of being infected with coronavirus. While some employee worries will be reasonably based on, and consistent with, guidance from medical authorities, other concerns may be driven by unfounded fear or speculation. Employers must be careful not to feed into unsubstantiated employee concerns and to avoid engaging in discrimination — including discrimination against individuals who are disabled or perceived as disabled because they are exhibiting symptoms associated with the virus, or individuals belonging to protected classes associated with a virus that appears to have originated in Asia.
Can an employee refuse to come to work due to their concerns over COVID-19?
In most circumstances, no. Under OSHA rules, an employee can refuse to come to work if they believe they are in imminent danger, which is defined as threat of death or serious physical harm. The employee would need to show that there is a high risk of death or serious physical harm in their immediate future if they were to come to work as opposed to a generalized fear. This is a high burden for employees to meet, especially if employers are following the workplace recommendations provided by the CDC and OSHA. However, if an employee is refusing to come to work, it may be worth seeking legal guidance.
What are your obligations if an employee has contracted or been directly exposed to COVID-19?
If you have an employee who has contracted COVID-19, that employee should be sent home immediately. It is also advised to seek information about who they may have come into close contact with through their work. Employers should share non-identifying information with other employees who work at the same location, as they are at increased health risk. Any employee that has come into close contact with the infected employee should also be sent home for 14 days. For specific guidance on how to deal with COVID-19 positive employees, please reach out to your local health department for reporting requirements.
Do employers have to pay employees if the company shuts down for a specified time due to COVID‑19?
Again, this answer depends on whether employees are exempt or non-exempt. If an employer shuts down their offices and/or facilities, non-exempt employees do not need to be paid when work is not being performed. However, for exempt employees, the general rule is that exempt employees need to be paid for all weeks in which some work is performed. Therefore, if offices and/or facilities are shut down for partial weeks, exempt employees receive their full salary. However, if offices and/or facilities are shut down for a full week, employers are not required to pay exempt employees for weeks where no work is performed.
How will businesses pay for the FFCRA legislation?
The bill provides tax credits for businesses that provide benefits for companies and self-employed individuals who are affected by the coronavirus. It can cover up to 100 percent of qualified paid sick leave, for employers, and a 67 percent refundable tax credit for self-employed people caring for a child or family member. For self-employed, the benefits are capped at either $200 per day or the average daily income rate, whichever is smaller. These things, obviously, will help many employees and small- business owners and the self-employed. However, it won’t cover all costs 100 percent.