COBRA Election and Enrollment Deadlines Extended During COVID-19 ‘Outbreak Period’

Posted in coronavirus, Department of Labor, ERISA & Employee Benefits Litigation, Labor, Labor & Employment

On May 4, 2020, in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of the Treasury, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Department of Labor, issued rules extending deadlines for participants and beneficiaries of certain group health, disability, and welfare plans to make certain benefit elections, give certain notices, and make enrollment decisions. The rules are intended to prevent plan participants and beneficiaries – who may be facing unemployment, reduced employment, or other conditions affecting coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic – from losing coverage or being forced to find alternative coverage at a critical time.

Read the full GT Alert, “COBRA Election and Enrollment Deadlines Extended During COVID-19 ‘Outbreak Period.'”

OSHA Will Examine If Employers Determined Whether Employee COVID-19 Cases Are Work-Related For Purposes of Recording Workplace Injury and Illnesses

Posted in coronavirus, Employee Policies, Labor, Labor & Employment, OSHA, Workplace Safety

On May 19, 2020, OSHA issued another enforcement guidance memorandum regarding recording COVID-19 cases that rescinds the prior guidance and obligates employers to make at least some work-related determinations regarding employees who contract COVID-19. The new memorandum goes into effect May 26, 2020, and will remain in effect until further notice.

By way of background, OSHA has explained that a COVID-19 case is a recordable illness if (1) an employee is positive or presumptively positive for COVID-19; (2) the case is work-related; and (3) the case results in medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work. For employers, the “million-dollar” question remains: How does an employer determine whether an employee’s COVID-19 case is work-related such that it is recordable on the employer’s Injury and Illness logs?

Continue reading the full GT Alert.

Fewer Commissioned Employees Eligible for Overtime Under New Employer-Friendly Department of Labor Rule

Posted in Department of Labor, earned wages, Employee Policies, FLSA, Labor, Labor & Employment, overtime, wages

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued revised regulations on May 18, 2020, effectively expanding the exemptions under Section 7(i) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which permits certain commissioned employees of “retail or service establishments” to be considered exempt from overtime. Designed to “reduce confusion,” the new rule, which takes effect immediately, removes from the existing regulations two lists: a partial list of industries that were presumed to have “no retail concept” and a non-exhaustive list of business that “may be recognized as retail.”1 By doing so, certain businesses previously on the non-retail list may now qualify for the Section 7(i) exemption if they otherwise meet the DOL’s criteria for the exemption. In other words, all businesses, regardless of their industry, will be treated consistently. This change therefore may increase the number of employers that qualify as “retail” businesses falling under the Section 7(i) exemption.

Read the full GT Alert, “Fewer Commissioned Employees Eligible for Overtime Under New Employer-Friendly Department of Labor Rule.”

ReOpen DC Advisory Group Recommends Four-Stage Reopening Plan

Posted in coronavirus, Labor, Labor & Employment, Workplace Safety

On May 21, 2020, the ReOpen DC Advisory Group, led by Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary Michael Chertoff, issued recommendations to Mayor Muriel Bowser for reopening the city in four stages. While the plan does not include specific dates, Mayor Bowser announced that Stage One could begin as early as May 29, 2020. This GT Alert summarizes the four stages.

Read the full GT Alert, “ReOpen DC Advisory Group Recommends Four-Stage Reopening Plan.”

CDC Issues Guidelines for Reopening

Posted in coronavirus, GT Alert

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance titled “CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again.” The 60-page document details the initiatives, activities, and tools the CDC is using to support the effort to reopen the country amid the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, as well as interim guidance for child care programs, schools and day camps, employers with high-risk workers, restaurants and bars, and mass transit administrators. This GT Alert summarizes CDC initiatives and priorities and setting specific guidance.

Continue reading the full GT Alert.

DOJ and FTC Issue Joint Antitrust Statements for Businesses and Workers in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted in Antitrust, coronavirus, Department of Labor, Employee Policies, Employment Agreement, Federal Law, Labor, Labor & Employment, Legislation, Litigation, wages, Workplace Safety

In April, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Competition of the Federal Trade Commission released a Joint Statement, warning they are “on alert” and will scrutinize employers – especially employers of front-line and essential workers such as doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, pharmacists, and warehouse workers – who engage in collusive or anticompetitive labor practices that take advantage of regulations relaxed to help the fight against COVID-19. The Agencies are actively on the lookout for employers, staffing companies, and recruiters who allegedly attempt to suppress or fix wages, refrain from competitive hiring or enter no-poach agreements, or share competitively sensitive employment information.

Read the full GT Alert, “DOJ and FTC Issue Joint Antitrust Statements for Businesses and Workers in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic.”

UK Employer COVID-19 Return-to-Work and Reporting Obligations Under RIDDOR

Posted in coronavirus, Employee Policies, Employment Agreement, International Labor & Employment, Labor, Labor & Employment, UK Employment, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

The UK national government has announced, in relation to England only, a programme of progressive easing of current lockdown measures due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). With respect to working arrangements, the guidance provides that:

[a]ll reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, our message is clear: you should go to work.

This represents a change to the previous guidance for England, which provided that individuals who could not work from home should not go to work (to the extent they were not deemed to be key workers) unless it was absolutely necessary for them to do so.

New York DOH Issues Business Reopening Safety Plan

Posted in coronavirus, Employee Policies, Employment Agreement, Labor, Labor & Employment, Legislation, New York, New York Department of Labor, State Law, Workplace Safety

The New York State Department of Health has issued a model Business Reopening Safety Plan for businesses that will be reopening in Phase 1 of Gov. Cuomo’s four-phase reopening guidelines for various regions and industries in New York state.

Read the full GT Alert, “New York DOH Issues Business Reopening Safety Plan.”

New Jersey to Permit Curbside Pickup at Non-Essential Retail Businesses, Non-Essential Construction, and Gatherings in Cars

Posted in coronavirus, Department of Labor, Employee Policies, Employment Agreement, Labor, Labor & Employment, Legislation, New Jersey, State Law, Workplace Safety

On May 13, 2020, in a step towards reopening New Jersey’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 142, which among other things (i) permits “non-essential” retail businesses to operate on a “curbside pickup” basis, and (ii) lifts the ban on non-essential construction projects. Executive Order No. 142 modifies earlier Executive Orders, including No. 107 (New Jersey’s current “Shelter-in-Place” Order), and No. 122. See GT Alert, “Effective April 10, New Jersey Imposes Operational Requirements on Essential Retail and Other Businesses, Closes Non-Essential Construction Projects.”

Read the full GT Alert, “New Jersey to Permit Curbside Pickup at Non-Essential Retail Businesses, Non-Essential Construction, and Gatherings in Cars.”

Governor Baker Announces Reopening Plan for Massachusetts Economy

Posted in coronavirus, GT Alert, Massachusetts, Workplace Safety

On May 18, 2020, Massachusetts Gov. Baker announced the implementation of a four-phase reopening plan for Massachusetts. For an overview of the four-phase plan, see GT Alert, Massachusetts Announces Four-Phase Reopening Approach and Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards, May 14, 2020.

Businesses eligible to reopen in Phase One must follow both mandatory workplace safety standards and sector-specific requirements. Businesses currently operating based on an Essential Services designation, as defined in the Governor’s March 23, 2020, Executive Order (updated May 15), may remain open, but must comply with mandatory safety standards by May 25, 2020.

Continue reading the full GT Alert, which discusses the elements businesses must have in place to reopen.

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