The time and energy of many business leaders continue to be consumed by the COVID-19 impact as it forces them to navigate new territory in their operations while planning for the future even with the uncertainty COVID-19 brings. Unfortunately, with all that COVID-19 adds new to deal with, it has not stopped the 'normal' evolving changes in business, regulations, etc. requiring leader's attention.

One of these is the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program passed into law in 2018. This July, the State released final amendments to the regulations in preparation for January 1st when some of the employee leave benefits become available. To review the regulation key components to assure your business will be in compliance and answer questions you may have, attend our webinar this Wednesday, September 16th. We will be joined by attorneys from Skoller, Abbott & Presser, one of the largest law firms in New England, exclusively practicing labor and employment law.   If you have not had a chance to register, there is still time. Register today!

Our Team continues to be here to help your business. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if we can assist.

DOL Issues Guidance on Tracking Hours of Work for Remote Employees
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2020-5 to remind employers of their obligation to accurately account for the number of hours their employees work away from the employer’s facilities.

The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to:
  • compensate their employees for all hours of work - this includes any hours an employee is requested or allowed to work, including telework or remote. For remote work situations, compensable time includes any time during which the employer knows or has reason to believe work is being performed, regardless of whether the work was authorized or requested. 
  • track the number of hours their employees work. For this reason, employers must provide reasonable procedures for employees to report any scheduled and unscheduled hours of work.
The burden is on the employer to prevent an employee from completing unauthorized or unwanted work

However, the DOL is of the opinion that “if an employee fails to report unscheduled hours of work through a reasonable process, the employer is not required to undergo impractical efforts to uncover unreported hours of work.”
DOL Revises FFCRA Regulations
Effective 9/16, revisions to the Families First Coronoavirus Response Act will take effect. It reaffirms:
  • The requirement that employees may take FFCRA leave only if work would otherwise be available to them
  • The requirement that an employee have employer approval to take FFCRA leave intermittently

It clarifies that:
  • Employees must provide required documentation supporting their need for FFCRA leave to their employers as soon as practicable (rather than always prior to taking leave).
  • For expanded family and medical leave, advance notice is not prohibited and is typically required if the need for leave is foreseeable, such as when an employee has advance notice of a school closing.

Lastly, it amends the definition of “health care provider” to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations or who are employed to provide services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care (such as diagnostic, preventive or treatment services). Read the revisions.
DOL Q&As on Employee Leave Under the FFCRA
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued and updated a lengthy series of questions and answers about employee leave under the the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The DOL Q&As provide detailed guidance to employers and employees on issues like eligibility for, and administration of leave under the Act. Employers subject to the FFCRA should review the updated DOL Q&As.
FMSCA Extends Coronavirus Trucking Exemptions
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended he emergency declaration that provides truck drivers an exemption from Parts 390 to 399 of the federal motor carrier regulations (including hours of service, vehicle inspection and driver qualification rules). This latest extension is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020, or until the national state of emergency ends, whichever comes sooner. Read more
EEOC Updates Frequently Asked Questions
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission added 18 new answers to frequently asked questions to its existing guidance on how employers should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) while also observing all applicable emergency workplace safety guidelines during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They also updated two of the FAQs from the existing guidance. Read more
Employer Guidance for Common Return-to-Work Concerns
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, many organizations are taking precautions to best ensure the health and safety of their workforce. As return-to-work plans are implemented, employees are also concerned about safety—and are often addressing concerns directly with their employers. Organizations are seeking answers regarding what they can, and cannot do in response to common return-to-work concerns. This article serves as a general guide for employers regarding safety and workplace precautions. Read more
Upholding an Employer’s Reputation With Employee Safety Initiatives During the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 continues to validate the importance of an employer brand during a crisis. As employees return to the workplace, organizations must prioritize safety. If return-to work plans go wrong and employee safety is not a top priority, not only will the health and safety of employees be at risk—but the organization’s reputation will be as well. Read more
CDC Updates Guidance for Quarantine After an Exposure to COVID-19
This HR Insights article provides an overview of guidance from the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) for quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. This guidance addresses who should quarantine, as well as how long quarantine should last dependent on the scenario. Read more
The FDA advises consumers to check sanitizer labels to see if it:
  • Was tested by the FDA
  • Has been found to contain methanol or propanol, which are toxic substances
  • Has been tested for and confirmed to have microbial contamination

The FDA is warning consumers to refrain from using more than 150 sanitizers. To help identify if your sanitizer is safe to use, the FDA has compiled an interactive do-not-use-list. They advise if your hand sanitizer is on the do-not-use-list, stop using it immediately and dispose of it in a hazardous waste container. Do not pour the sanitizer down the drain. For more information on the FDA’s warning and their do-not-use-list, click here.
To control the spread of COVID-19, the need for wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands has been made very clear. However, not everyone agrees with these measures putting some employees in challenging positions when customers don't want to adhere to the protocols. The past few months have seen instances of aggression and violence against workers who attempted to enforce their establishment’s COVID-19 prevention policies and practices with customers. As a result, the Centers for CDC issued new guidance instructing employees not to force any customer who appears upset or potentially violent to comply with their workplace’s COVID-19 prevention requirements. Read more.
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