Dane County Public Health Emergency Order #7

In response to the recent spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) released Emergency Order #7 on July 1, 2020. This new order is effective July 2 at 8:00 a.m.

Determining that “planned phases are no longer useful,” PHMDC has also revised its Forward Dane plan. Dane County is in a rebound stage under the new Forward Dane. PHMDC will continue to monitor the same nine metrics but is modifying, at least for now, how and when the county re-opens.

The primary changes in Emergency Order #7 are:

  • Employers must post PHMDC’s Workplace Requirements for Employers and Workers guidance in a prominent location where all employees may view and access. If employees are working remotely, this may require emailing the poster to employees or posting it on an internal network.
  • Outdoor mass gatherings are limited to 25 people.
  • Indoor mass gatherings on any property are limited to 10 people.
  • Group fitness classes and all sports activities are under the restrictions for mass gatherings. They are therefore limited to 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors, not including employees.
  • Indoor seating capacity at restaurants has been reduced to 25%.
  • Bars are prohibited from any indoor seating but may offer takeout service and outdoor seating.
    • Restaurant and bar seating continues to be restricted to tables 6 feet apart and limited to 6 people who are in the same household.
  •  Summer school classrooms are limited to no more than 15 students who are 12 years old or younger, and no more than 25 students who are 13 years old or older.

Emergency Order #7 has not changed the requirements that employers develop compliant workplace hygiene, cleaning, and protective measure policies, and document their employees’ receipt, acknowledgment, or training on the policies. If you would like to schedule a meeting with us to prepare a customized policy and/or training for your organization, please contact us.

Please see Forward Dane and the accompanying legal requirements set forth in Emergency Order #7 for details applicable to your industry. Below is a summary of Emergency Order #7.

Mass Gatherings

  • The following limited mass gatherings are permitted as long as people maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet
    • Inside with up to 10 people, not including employees
    • Outside with up to 25 people, not including employees
  • Mass gatherings include concerts, festivals, fairs, parades, movies, performances, shows, trainings, meetings, conferences, sporting events, group fitness classes, and sports activities for children and adults
    • Note that group fitness classes and all sports activities have been added to the definition of mass gatherings
    • Religious services are not mass gatherings
    • Drive-in movie theaters or other drive-in activities are not mass gatherings

Child Care, Youth, Education, Libraries, Public Spaces, and Sports

  • Childcare facilities must restrict groups and classrooms to no more than 15 children if the children are 12 years or younger, or no more than 25 children if the children are at least 13 years old
    • There should be no interaction between the groups or classrooms, and staff interaction between groups must be limited to the greatest extent feasible
  • Public playgrounds and splash pads are open, but physical distancing must be maintained
  • Public courts and fields are open, but physical distancing must be maintained
    • Games for low-risk sports – as defined in the order – are allowed if physical distancing is maintained
    • Games between teams for medium and high-risk sports – as defined in the order – are not allowed, but games within a team for medium and high-risk sports are allowed if physical distancing is maintained
    • All sports activities are subject to the mass gathering restrictions (25 people outdoors, and 10 people indoors)
  • K-12 schools may open for in person instruction and extracurricular activities if schools create, distribute, and implement the required hygiene, cleaning, and protective measure policies with their staff; and develop and implement a written action plan for a COVID-19 outbreak with certain items outlined in the order.
  • Continuing education and higher education institutions must maintain physical distancing to the greatest extent possible; may determine policies for safe operation; and must adopt strict policies to ensure safe living conditions before opening dorms and other congregate living situations

All Businesses, Libraries, Community Centers, and Religious Entities

  • Capacity must be limited to 50% of approved capacity level
    • See this guide to determining capacity level
    • This does not apply to restaurants and bars – see below
  • Organizations must implement required hygiene, cleaning, and protective measure policies, and document that employees receive and acknowledge, or are trained on, these policies
  • Employers must post PHMDC’s Workplace Requirements for Employers and Workers guidance in a prominent location where all employees may view and access it
  • Organizations must limit staff and customers on site, and continue to facilitate remote work to the greatest extent possible, including offering virtual services, meetings, and and/or alternating work teams or staggering shifts
  • When remote work is not possible, all organizations must:
    • Where possible, offer curbside pick-up and drop-off, and delivery
    • Where possible, provide a way for customers to pay, and make appointments and reservations online or over the phone
    • Provide door-to-door solicitation with physical distancing
    • Ensure physical distancing in waiting areas with appropriate spacing of chairs

Additional Industry Specific Requirements

  • Restaurants, bars, and stores that sell food, groceries, and alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages must
    • Encourage pick-up and delivery options
    • Prohibit self-dispensing of bulk items and condiments
      • Beverage stations may remain open
    • Prohibit sampling of food and self-service of unpackaged food, e.g. salad bar, buffet
      • This prohibition does not apply to produce in stores
    • Limit indoor dine-in capacity at restaurants to 25% of approved seating levels; space tables and chairs to ensure 6 feet of physical distancing; and limit each table to 6 customers, all of whom must live together
      • Bars are not allowed to have any indoor seating
        • Customers may enter a bar only to order, pick-up and pay for food and beverages, or while in transit (e.g. to use the bathroom)
        • “Bar” is defined as “an establishment in which fermented malt beverages are sold for consumption upon said premises and whose sale of alcohol beverages accounts for at least 51% of the establishment’s gross receipts and whose primary business is that of a bar”
      • Limit outdoor seating if tables and chairs are spaced 6 feet apart and each table is limited to 6 customers, all of whom must live together
        • This applies to restaurants and bars
      • Space bar stools in restaurants at least 6 feet part for customers who do not live together
      • Customers must be seated at all times when not in transit (e.g. to go to the bathroom)
  • Retail stores must
    • Limit the number of customers inside the business to no more than 50% of capacity, not including employees
    • Offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable individuals if your store is larger than 50,000 square feet
    • Prohibit sampling, including of food and any goods
  • Salons and spas must
    • Limit the number of customers to 50% of approved capacity (if capacity is four or less, one customer is permitted)
    • Space customer chairs, tables, and stations at least 6 feet apart
    • Require employees to always wear face coverings when customers are present
    • Require customers to wear face coverings to the greatest extent possible
  • Gyms and fitness centers must
    • Provide disinfecting materials for members to use on equipment before and after use, and increase frequency of cleaning of equipment, common areas, locker rooms, and restrooms
    • Limit the number of individuals on site (excluding employees) to 50% of approved capacity
    • Space equipment at least 6 feet apart to the extent possible
    • Use floor markings to indicate appropriate physical spacing, particularly in areas where people congregate or cluster
    • Offer group exercise classes only if physical distancing is maintained and there is no person-to-person contact
      • Note that group exercise classes are now considered a mass gathering and are subject to those restrictions (10 people indoors, and 25 people outdoors, excluding employees)
    • Prohibit all activities where physical distancing cannot be maintained between people who do not live together
    • Close saunas and steam rooms
  • Places of amusement and activity must
    • Require payments and reservations only online or over the phone to the extent possible
    • Schedule events or the start of an activity to ensure physical distancing between all individuals who do not live together
    • Space seating, stations, or other areas to ensure at least at least at least 6 feet of physical distancing between individuals who do not live together
    • Limit the number of individuals on site (excluding employees) to 50% of approved capacity
      • Events such as concerts, festivals, shows, etc. are also subject to the restrictions on mass gatherings
    • Disinfect all equipment between each customer’s use
  • Lodging facilities must
    • Prohibit guests from congregating in lobbies or common areas
    • Adopt cleaning protocols for guest rooms and common areas based on PHMDC guidelines
    • Provide personal protective equipment and training to housekeeping staff for proper handling of linens and cleaning/disinfecting supplies
    • Comply with all other guidelines, such as those that apply to restaurants and bars, if applicable
  • Drive-In movie theaters and other drive-in activities must
    • Prohibit outdoor seating
    • Prohibit customers from leaving their car except to purchase or pick up food or drinks, or to use the restroom
    • Encourage pick-up and delivery of food and drinks, and prohibit any self-service of unpackaged food and self-dispensing of condiments
    • Reservations and payments should be made in advance online or over the phone to the greatest extent possible

Other industries

  • Health care, public health, human services, infrastructure, manufacturing, and government operations are subject to specific provisions and restrictions under Emergency Order #7, namely these organizations must implement required cleaning and hygiene policies, and comply with other applicable PHMDC, state, and federal requirements

Leased Property

  • Landlords and rental property managers may enter and show leased residential properties if all individuals wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing

Violations of this order are considered ordinance violations and are enforceable by any local law enforcement official.

The Lake Effect team will continue to monitor important updates such as these from Dane County and other counties across the state. Please keep watching for blogs and emails from us for important legal updates and HR best practices. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Phase 1 Reopening Requirements for 5/26/20

UPDATE, May 27, 2020

Public Health Madison and Dane County announced at a meeting today with the Madison Chamber of Commerce that employers are required to document receipt, acknowledgment, or training on the policies required in Emergency Order #3. The order’s original language requiring receipt, acknowledgment, and training was a mistake. We have updated the summary below.


At 8:00 a.m. on May 26, Dane County will start Phase One of reopening under Forward Dane, (note 5/22/20 version updating 5/18/20 version). Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) have released Emergency Order #3 to coincide with Phase One. The order provides requirements for organizations as they gradually start to reopen. Emergency Order #3 is effective May 26 and will remain in effect until PHMDC determines that we can move into Phase Two.

As with Emergency Order #2, violations of Emergency Order #3 can be enforced by any law enforcement official and will be considered ordinance violations. Please see Forward Dane and the accompanying legal requirements set forth in Emergency Order #3 for new details for your industry.

Below is an outlined summary of Emergency Order #3:

Capacity and Training

  • Under Emergency Order #3, Phase One capacity for office, restaurant, bar, salon, store, gym, and other workspaces is now set at “25% of approved capacity” (this reflects a change from “25% capacity” in the original Forward Dane). Until we receive additional guidance from PHMDC, employers should check with their landlord or posted capacity for guidance on their “approved capacity” limits.
  • Under Emergency Order #3, employers must develop the required policies, and document receipt, acknowledgment, or training on the policies (this reflects the correction by PHMDC issued 5/27/20). The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR and Law can prepare a compliant workplace hygiene, cleaning, and protective measure policy. If you would like to schedule a meeting with us to prepare a customized policy for your organization, please contact us.

Mass Gatherings

  • The following limited mass gathering are permitted so long as people maintain physical distancing of at least six feet
    • Inside a commercial facility with up to 50 people
    • Inside private property or a private home with up to 10 people
    • Outside with up to 50 people
  • Mass gatherings include concerts, festivals, sporting events, meetings, trainings, conferences, and religious services
  • These restrictions do not apply to drive-in movie theaters or other drive-in activities

Child Care, Education, Libraries, and Public Spaces

  • Childcare facilities must restrict groups and classrooms to no more than 15 children, and there can be no interaction between the groups or classrooms
  • K-12 schools remain closed for in-person instruction
  • Continuing education and higher education institutions may determine policies for safe operation, including how to safely open dorms and maintain physical distancing to the greatest extent possible
  • Public playgrounds and splash pads remain closed
  • Public courts and fields are open but people must maintain physical distancing

All Businesses, Libraries, Community Centers, and Religious Entities

  • Capacity must be limited to 25%
    • PHMDC previously indicated that each organization will use its best judgment to determine the appropriate metric for capacity. However, Emergency Order #3 limits capacity to “25% of approved capacity levels.” No guidance has been provided on this change. We will follow up with any guidance we receive.
  • Organizations must implement required policies, and document that your employees receive, acknowledge and are trained on these policies
    • The hygiene policy must
      • Ensure employees who have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to work
      • Establish hand-washing expectations and ensure supplies are available to employees
      • Describe proper cough and sneeze etiquette
    • The cleaning policy must include guidelines for
      • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces multiple times a day
      • Frequently wiping down any shared equipment, such as work spaces, credit card machines, lunchroom items, carts, baskets, etc.
      • Cleaning common areas and equipment between use or shift changes
      • Cleaning and disinfecting in the event of a positive COVID-19 case on site
    • The protective measure policy must ensure
      • Individuals are at least six feet from others whenever possible
      • Employees are provided with and wear face coverings when unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from customers; however, if a transparent partition is in place, a face covering is recommended, but not required
  • Organizations must limit staff and customers on site, and continue to facilitate remote work to the greatest extent possible
    • To the greatest extent feasible, organizations should offer virtual services, hold virtual meetings, and/or alternate work teams or stagger shifts
  • When remote work is not possible, all organizations must:
    • Where possible, offer curbside pick-up and drop-off, and delivery
    • Where possible, provide a way for customers to pay, and make appointments and reservations online or over the phone
    • Cease door-to-door solicitation
    • Ensure physical distancing in waiting areas with appropriate spacing of chairs

Additional Industry Specific Requirements

  • Stores that sell food, groceries, and alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages must
    • Encourage pick-up and delivery options
    • Prohibit self-dispensing of bulk items and condiments, and sampling of food
    • Except for produce, prohibit any customer self-service of unpackaged food (e.g. salad bar, beverage station)
    • Limit dine-in capacity to 25% of approved seating levels; space tables at least six feet apart; and limit each table to no more than 6 guests, all of whom must live together
  • Restaurants and bars must
    • Encourage pick-up and delivery options
    • Prohibit any customer self-service of unpackaged food (e.g. salad bar, beverage station)
    • Prohibit self-dispensing of condiments, and sampling of food
    • Limit indoor dine-in capacity to 25% of approved seating limits; space tables at least six feet apart; and limit each table to no more than six guests, all of whom must live together
    • Space outdoor tables at least six feet apart; and limit each table to no more than 6 guests, all of whom must live together
    • Space bar stools at least six feet part
    • Close all play areas and lounge areas
  • Retail stores must
    • Limit the number of customers inside the business to no more than 25% of approved capacity levels
    • Offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable individuals if your store is larger than 50,000 square feet
    • Establish lines outside to regulate entry, with markings so that customers can stand at least 6 feet apart; businesses should also consider alternatives such as allowing customers to wait in their cars for a text message or schedule specific times for entry
    • Prohibit sampling, including of food and any goods (e.g. make-up)
  • Malls may open but play areas and areas of congregation outside stores must be clearly marked as closed
  • Salons and spas (e.g. hair salons, day spas, barber shops, nail salons, waxing salons, tattoo parlors) must
    • Limit the number of customers to 25% of approved capacity (if capacity of four or less, 1 customer is permitted)
    • Space customer chairs, tables, and stations at least six feet apart
    • Provide services by appointment only
    • Require employees to wear face coverings at all times when customers are present
    • Require customers to wear face coverings to the greatest extent possible
  • Gyms and fitness centers must
    • Provide disinfecting materials for members to use on equipment
    • Limit the number of individuals on site (excluding employees) to 25% of approved capacity
    • Increase frequency of cleaning of equipment, common areas, locker rooms, and restrooms
    • Space equipment at least six feet apart to the extent possible
    • Use floor markings to indicate appropriate physical spacing, particularly in areas where people congregate or cluster
    • Offer group exercise classes only if physical distancing is maintained and there is no person-to-person contact
    • Prohibit all activities where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Places of amusement and activity must
    • Require payments and reservations only online or over the phone to the extent possible
    • Schedule events or the start of an activity (e.g. a tee time) to ensure physical distancing between all individuals who are not living together
    • Space seating, stations, or other areas to ensure at least at least at least six feet of physical distancing between individuals (individuals who live together are not required to be six feet apart)
    • Limit the number of individuals on site (excluding employees) to 25% of approved capacity
      • Outdoor venues (e.g. concerts) are limited to a maximum of 50 people (excluding employees)
    • Disinfect high touch areas (e.g. door handles, buttons) between each use (if this is not possible, the business may not open)
    • Disinfect all equipment between each use
  • Lodging facilities (e.g., hotels, campgrounds, AirBNB and VRBO rentals) must
    • Prohibit guests from congregating in lobbies or common areas
    • Implement cleaning protocols for guest rooms and common areas based on PHMDC guidelines
    • Provide personal protective equipment and training to housekeeping staff for proper handling of linens and cleaning/disinfecting supplies
    • Comply with all other guidelines, such as those that apply to restaurants bars, if applicable
  • Drive-In movie theaters and other drive-in activities must
    • Prohibit outdoor seating
    • Prohibit customers from leaving their car except to purchase or pick up food or drinks, or to use the restroom
    • Encourage pick-up and delivery of food and drinks, and prohibit any self-service of unpackaged food and self-dispensing of condiments

Other industries

  • Health care, public health, human services, infrastructure, manufacturing, and government operations are subject to limited restrictions under Emergency Order #3, namely these organizations must implement the required cleaning and hygiene policies, and comply with other applicable PHMDC requirements.

Leased Property

  • Landlords and rental property managers may enter leased residential properties if they are wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing

The Lake Effect team will continue to monitor important updates such as these from Dane County and other counties across the state. Please keep watching for blogs and emails from us for important legal updates and HR best practices. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

#bekind #staywell #grantgrace

For most of us, Memorial Day weekend has always served as the unofficial kick-off to the summer season, a long weekend spent with family and friends enjoying time together and creating memories. But the reality of life with COVID-19 has put many of these plans on hold and makes leaving the house feel like an act of bravery.

Over the past few months, the Lake Effect team has been sharing with you the latest government updates and guidance. Today, we would like to take a few moments to recognize the true meaning of Memorial Day and honor those who have lost their lives in active military service, a true act of bravery.

Next, we want to help you officially kick off the Summer of 2020 with some old school good vibrations! In March, when the reality of living in a world with COVID-19 became clear, our team came up with three phrases signifying how we wanted to face the uncertain times ahead:

  • Be Kind
  • Stay Well
  • Grant Grace

Be Kind: COVID-19 has impacted everyone in different ways. We will have good days and bad, but any act of kindness we can provide each other, even a stranger, goes a long way toward getting through these days together. This weekend, how can you make someone smile by sharing your kindness?

Stay Well: Not only should we monitor our temperatures, practice social distancing, and wash our hands frequently, but we should be mindful of our mental health as well. It is important that we stay aware of our current mental state, and care for ourselves and each other. There have been times when some of us had to take a personal” timeout,” and other times when we just needed to be there for each other (of course, via phone or Microsoft Teams). This weekend, soak up some sun, have an impromptu picnic with the family at one of our lovely parks, take advantage of the rain that is in the forecast and binge on Netflix all day, or make more bread – whatever fills your tank mentally and physically.

Grant Grace: The challenges we face today are many. For some, social distancing has led to feelings of isolation; for others, it has led to crowded homes with children home from school all day or college kids reluctantly returning home early; it has converted dining room tables or kitchen counters into unintended classrooms and home offices. We have cancelled weddings and graduations, and we have postponed memorials and funerals to say goodbye to loved ones. No matter how hard we try to stay strong, we are not perfect. This is a stressful time for all of us. Our quirks shine brighter than ever when we are stressed. Be gentle with yourself and with others. We’ll get through this together.

So, enjoy your holiday weekend in whatever form it takes. #bekind #staywell #grantgrace

OSHA reinstates normal reporting and investigation standards for COVID

On May 19, 2020, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reversed an earlier enforcement policy for recording cases of COVID. As Lake Effect reported in April, OSHA had announced that it would not enforce its record-keeping requirements on employers to make COVID “work-relatedness” determinations, except when (1) there was objective evidence that an employee’s exposure to COVID-19 was work-related and (2) that evidence was reasonably available to the employer. At that time, OSHA noted that it may be difficult for employers to determine if an employee with COVID-19 contracted COVID-19 at work. Yesterday, OSHA revised that policy.

OSHA will now increase in-person worksite inspections and enforce COVID record-keeping requirements for all employers. Acknowledging the difficulty in determining where an employee may have contracted COVID, OSHA reminded employers that a case of COVID in the workplace is a recordable illness. Employers must record cases of COVID if all of the following are true:

  • An employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19;
  • The employee’s case of COVID is considered to be work-related*; and
  • The illness involves one or more of the recording criteria, including medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.

*Note that an illness is considered to be work-related “if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment” unless an exception applies.

Keep in mind that employers with 10 or fewer employees or in certain low hazard industries are exempt from OSHA reporting requirements unless the injury or illness results in hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.

The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace and will continue to provide our clients with updates as they are available. Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for all of our pandemic-related legal updates and HR best practices. The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

SBA and Treasury Release PPP Loan Forgiveness Application

On May 15, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and related forms and instructions. The application and forms instruct borrowers how to calculate and apply for loan forgiveness and specify the supporting documentation to be submitted to lenders. Key aspects of the application and instructions include the following:

  • Borrowers must calculate payroll costs over the course of a single, consecutive eight-week period, but they may choose to include those costs either:
    • During the “Covered Period,” which begins on the PPP loan disbursement date and ends 56 days later; or
    • During an “Alternative Covered Period,” which begins on the first day of the borrower’s regular pay period following the PPP loan disbursement date and ends 56 days later.
  • Borrowers may include eligible payroll and nonpayroll costs paid or incurred during the Covered Period or the Alternative Covered Period, as long as costs incurred during the period are paid by the next regular billing date, and any eligible cost is only counted once.
  • PPP loan forgiveness conditioned upon borrower’s retention of the same number of Full Time Equivalent (“FTE”) employees will not be reduced if:
    • Borrower meets the requirements of the FTE Reduction Safe Harbor by restoring FTE levels by no later than June 30, 2020; or
    • With respect to any position for which the Borrower made a good-faith, written offer to rehire an employee during the Covered Period or Alternative Covered Period which was rejected by the employee; or
    • With respect to any FTE employee who, during the Covered Period or Alternative Covered Period, was fired for cause, voluntarily resigned, or voluntarily requested and received a reduction in hours.
  • Borrowers must submit to their lender detailed documentation including bank account statements or payroll service provider reports, payroll tax forms, payment receipts documenting contributions to health insurance and other benefits, and documents supporting nonpayroll expenses such as mortgage interest payments, rent or lease payments and utility payments.
  • Borrowers must retain, but are not required to submit to their lender, all records relating to the PPP loan and forgiveness applications for 6 years after the date that the loan is forgiven or repaid in full.
  • There is specific guidance on calculating “Average FTE” from employees who work less than 40 hours/week (See Table Instructions of Schedule A Worksheet), reducing the amount of forgiveness by the amount of EIDL Advance (See line 11 of the Calculation Form), and limiting at eight weeks’ worth of 2019 compensation the amount of owner-employee’s or self-employed individual/general partner’s income, capped at $15,385 per person (See item 1 of the Representations and Certifications).

The PPP Loan Forgiveness Application is detailed and requires a substantial amount of specific, supporting documentation. Therefore, employers should work closely with their lenders, accountants, payroll providers, and tax advisors to ensure that the process is completed thoroughly and accurately.

The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace and will continue to provide our clients with updates as they are available. Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for all of our pandemic-related legal updates and HR best practices. The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

DWD’s Work-Share Program: Another Option to Avoid Layoffs

As employers evaluate options to address the impact of COVID-19 on their organizations, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is encouraging participation in its Work-Share Program.

The Work-Share Program is designed to help employers avoid layoffs of at least two employees by reducing employees’ hours during slow business periods of up to six months. The state has adopted legislation relaxing some of the program’s requirements to make it more accessible for employers during the pandemic. Through December 31, 2020, the thresholds for work-share plans have been simplified and lowered, as follows:

  1. the plans are no longer restricted to a particular work unit;
  2. the plans normally apply to the greater of 20 positions or 10% of the employees in a work unit, but now the plans may cover at least two employees; and
  3. the participating employees’ reductions in hours previously could not exceed 50%, but now the participating employees’ hours may be reduced by 10-60%.

The intent of the program is to keep employees working and covered on employee benefit plans, while also allowing them to receive unemployment benefits. Participating employees are eligible for state and federal unemployment benefits, including employees earning more than $500/week from any employer/s who would otherwise be ineligible for unemployment. In addition, employers are required to maintain the participating employees’ health insurance coverage and coverage under any defined benefit or defined contribution retirement plan under the same terms and conditions that applied before participation in the work-share plan.

To participate, employers must submit an application to the DWD. The application must outline, among other things, information about the employees who will participate in the plan and the reduction in the employees’ hours. DWD has dedicated staff to handle questions about the Work-Share Program and is expediting the review of work-share applications.

The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace and will continue to provide updates as they are available. Check out our COVID-19 resource page for all of our pandemic-related legal updates and HR best practices. The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Evers Administration Releases Specific Guidance to Prepare for Reopening

On May 8, 2020, the Evers administration released specific guidance on “turning the dial” toward reopening. The guidelines cover such issues as employee health and hygiene; social distancing and other protective measures in the workplace; cleaning and disinfection practices; physical distancing of employees and equipment; employee training, support and communication; and customer/public health and safety considerations. There is general guidance for all organizations to follow, as well as specific guidance for the following industries:

The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace. Please keep watching for blogs and emails from your Lake Effect team for important legal updates and HR best practices. The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

EEOC Updates ADA Accommodations and EEO Reporting

On May 7, 2020, the EEOC updated an existing technical assistance publication, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO Laws.” New questions and answers on “Return to Work” address an employer’s obligations to accommodate employees with underlying medical conditions as they begin to return to the workplace during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The EEOC also provided updated guidance on EEO reporting.

The new guidance confirms that if an employee has a medical condition that may create a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (as identified by the CDC) and is in need of a reasonable accommodation, the employee must inform their employer either verbally or in writing about the medical condition and the potential need for an accommodation. The employer may then ask questions or seek medical documentation to determine whether the employee has a disability that can be reasonably accommodated without undue hardship. Notably, if an employee does not request an accommodation, the employer is not required to take action. If the employer knows and is concerned that an employee has a medical condition that increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (as identified by the CDC), the employer may not exclude that employee from the workplace or take any other adverse action solely on that basis unless (1) the employee’s disability poses a “direct threat” to their health that (2) cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.

The ADA “direct threat” requirement is a high, fact-specific standard. The direct threat assessment may not be based solely on a condition being on the CDC’s list; rather, an employer must make an individualized assessment based upon a reasonable medical judgment about the employee’s specific disability. In most cases, the employer will have to consider such factors as: the severity of the pandemic in the geographic area of the worksite; employee’s specific health condition; the employee’s job duties; likelihood of exposure to the virus at the worksite; and measures being taken by the employer to protect all workers.

Even if an employer determines that an employee’s disability poses a direct threat to the employee’s own health, the employer still cannot exclude or take adverse action against the employee unless there is no way to provide a reasonable accommodation absent undue hardship to the employer. Potential reasonable accommodations may include: providing enhanced protective gear or equipment; erecting protective barriers in the workplace; eliminating marginal functions; and temporarily modifying an employee’s work location or schedule.

This means that an employer may only bar such an employee from the workplace if, after going through all necessary steps and considering all potential accommodations, the facts demonstrate that the employee poses a significant risk of substantial harm to herself that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.

In a separate action today, the EEOC announced that it will delay collection of 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 (Employer Information Report), 2020 EEO-3 (Local Report) and 2020 EEO-5 (Elementary-Secondary Staff Information Report) due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The EEOC expects to begin collecting 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 reports in March 2021, and it expects to begin collecting 2020 EEO-3 and EEO-5 reports in January 2021. The EEOC will notify filers of the precise dates the surveys will open as soon as those dates are available.

The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the continuing impact of COVID-19 on the workplace and will continue to provide timely updates. Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for all of our pandemic-related legal updates and HR best practices. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Updated Cobra Forms

On May 1, 2020, the Department of Labor announced updates to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) Model General Notice and Model Election Notice. The modifications provide information about Medicare as an option for employees who have lost their health insurance as a result of a qualifying event. Given the number of layoffs and terminations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, these are timely updates.

Employers can download the updated forms in Word format by clicking on the button below, and the new language is highlighted in yellow and areas to be customized are highlighted in green. Employers will then need to insert information about their benefits plan/s, premium/s, COBRA deadlines, and COBRA administrator. Alternatively, the attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law can help you tailor the forms for your organization. We can also assist and advise on overall COBRA administration.

Recovery Readiness Guide For Employers

As businesses prepare to reopen or resume full operations amid COVID-19, there will be new challenges and questions. No one has all the answers, but Lake Effect can help you anticipate some of the issues that are likely to arise as you reopen and/or return more employees to the worksite. We do not know when business will return to “normal,” but employers can put measures in place to be successful and compassionate as we introduce our employees and workplaces to our “new normal.”

Lake Effect has prepared detailed guidance to help employers welcome their teams. Below is an outline of those steps; if you would like to schedule a time to discuss a plan tailored to your organization, please let us know.

As always, the attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are available to advise you as you develop plans to restore operations and welcome team members back to the workplace. We look forward to helping our partners bounce back. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Steps to Welcome Team Members Back to Work in the Wake of COVID-19

STEP 1: MAKE THE DECISION TO RESTORE OPERATIONS

Who will decide?
How will you notify employees?
How will the return be implemented?

STEP 2: RESTORE, RECALL, AND REHIRE EMPLOYEES WHO WERE FURLOUGHED, LAID OFF OR TERMINATED

Furloughed Employees
Laidoff Employees
Terminated Employees
Work-share Program
Other considerations

STEP 3: CHOOSE EFFECTIVE SCHEDULING STRATEGIES

Continue telework for some
Ensuring social distancing
Other considerations

STEP 4: PLAN FOR ENHANCED CLEANING IN THE WORKPLACE

Cleaning plans and practices
Changes in utilization of space and equipment
Possible limitations on plans

STEP 5: EVALUATE PHYSICAL WORKPLACE, PROTECTIVE GEAR AND OTHER SAFEGUARDS

Changes to workspace and protective gear
Changes to interactions and gatherings

STEP 6: ASSESS OF EMPLOYEE HEALTH

Screening and/or testing
Logistics of testing

STEP 7: ADDRESS EMPLOYEE CONCERNS AND NEEDS

Communicate all post-quarantine changes and expectations
Monitor employees’ wellbeing
Assess employee morale
Prevent harassment and discrimination

STEP 8: CONSIDER & MONITOR POTENTIAL ISSUES UNDER ADA, OSHA, AND NLRA

ADA Issues
OSHA issues
NLRA issues

STEP 9: ANTICIPATE EMPLOYEE LEAVE REQUESTS

STEP 10: TRAIN SUPERVISORS AND MANAGERS

STEP 11: REVIEW AND UPDATE EXISTING POLICIES

STEP 12: PLAN AHEAD

Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC
(844) 333-5253 (LAKE)
info@le-hrlaw.com

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