Given that the situation with COVID-19 infections identified continues to evolve and is changing very rapidly, it is important that you make sure your business monitors and reads daily updates, resources, and communications from Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) websites, and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) websites.
Managing workforce health and safety:
-Companies should institute and implement CDC and NYS DOH guidance on COVID-19 containment, delay and mitigation measures for staff and to abide by.
-Deliver regular updates to your staff, ensuring a reliable and open line of communication for any questions or concerns.
-Actively encourage sick employees to stay at home.
-Where possible, suspend business visitors to the office and priorities flexible/remote working and meeting for non-medical staff.
-Ensure that the office is fully stocked with soap, paper towels, and CDC recommended hand sanitizers.
-Perform routine environmental cleaning in the office.
COVID-19 Related Payroll Issues:
Under New York State Paid Sick Leave Bill, S8091 passed March 18, 2020 – effective immediately:
If you are a business with 10 or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020 and have a net income of under $1 million last fiscal year:
-Your employees will receive unpaid sick days with full job protection and the ability immediately to qualify for paid family leave and temporary disability benefits provided by New York State.
-If you are a businesses with 11-99 employees as of January 1, 2020 or a businesses who has employees of 10 or under with a net income of greater than $1 million last fiscal year:
-Your employees will be required to pay 5 days of paid leave to their employees with job protection. For the rest of the required quarantine or isolation, employees will have the ability immediately to qualify for paid family leave and temporary disability benefits provided by New York State.
If you are a businesses with 100 or more employees as of January 1, 2020 :
-You will be required to provide paid sick days for the entirety of the quarantine, up to 14 days, including full job protection.
-Employees will qualify for paid family leave to care for a minor dependent child who is subject to mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.
H.R. 6201: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act – effective in two weeks
If you are a business with fewer than 500 employees, you must immediately make available 80 hours (2 weeks) of paid sick leave for full-time employees (or the equivalent of the average number of hours over two weeks for part time employees) for the following reasons:
-The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
-The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
-The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
-The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in the previous points 1 and 2.
-The employee is caring for their son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of the son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
-The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
If you allow workers to work from home, make sure you develop a telework policy. The policy should provide staff with the following:
-Clear guidance on processes for authentication and secure access;
-How to track all hours worked
-Reminder to comply with all company confidentiality policies and procedures
-Reminder to comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.
As of today, March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced at a press conference that ALL non-essential workforce must work remotely.
This excludes all essential services: (food, pharmacies, healthcare, shipping supplies)
For most at-will employment agreements, you can change your employee’s job title and responsibilities, as long as they are qualified to perform the work. You may reduce the number of hours your employees work, but be sure to review your restrictions and obligations listed in the Employment Agreements.
New York State WARN Act
New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining (WARN) Act requires covered businesses to provide a 90-day warning of plant closing, mass layoff, relocation, or other covered reduction in work hours to workers, employee representatives, the Department of Labor, and local workforce development boards.
A 90-day WARN notice if you are a business with 50 or more full time employees in New York State. It covers:
-Closings affecting 25 or more workers
-Mass layoffs involving 25 or more full-time workers (if the 25 or more workers make up at least 33% of all the workers at the site)
-Mass layoffs involving 250 or more full-time workers
-Certain other relocations and covered reductions in work hours
If you are unable to provide notice otherwise required as a result of circumstances described above, you must provide as much notice as is practicable.