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

Emergency Order #34: Interim Order to Turn the Dial

On April 27, 2020, the Evers Administration released Emergency Order #34 entitled “Interim Order to Turn the Dial.” In this order, the administration expands slightly the permissible business operations set forth in Emergency Order #28, “Safer at Home Order.” This Order takes effect on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.

While Section 14 of “Safer at Home” permitted curb-side pick-up as part of Minimum Basic Operations, this Order adds “curb-side drop-off of goods or animals for the purpose of having those goods or animals serviced, repaired, or cared for by the business.” Staff within the business or facility is still limited to 1 person in a room or confined space and payment must be made by phone or online (i.e., no transfer of cash or check and no signature for receipt). All arrangements must be scheduled in advance, and customers may not enter the business or facility to ensure proper social distancing.

This Order also expands Minimum Basic Operations to include rental of recreational equipment “including but not limited to boats, kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, golf carts, snowmobiles, and ATVs.” The staff count, payment methods, scheduling requirements, and prohibition against customers entering the business or facility mirror those set forth above for curb-side drop-off. All rental equipment must be thoroughly cleaned been uses.

Finally, the Order expands Minimum Basic Operations to include car washes, provided the car wash is entirely automatic or self-service. All high-touch surfaces must be cleaned between use if possible, or as frequently as practicable.

Consistent with its “Badger Bounce Back” plan, the Evers Administration is progressing towards its stated goal of gradually reopening businesses and operations across the state. 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.

Summary of WI Act 185 – COVID-19 Relief Package

On Friday April 15, 2020, Governor Evers signed into law Act 185, a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package. Key provisions for employers include the following:

  • Waiver of 1-week waiting period for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits: One week waiting period for UI benefits will not apply with respect to benefit years that begin after March 12, 2020 and before February 7, 2021. (Section 38: 108.04). The federal government will provide funding for this benefit.
    • Recall that, under the CARES Act, the federal government expanded the maximum UI benefits period from 26 weeks to 39 weeks and provided an additional $600/week in UI benefits. For a good summary, see https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/caresact/.
  • COVID-Related UI claims charged to WI’s balancing account, not employer’s account: The Department of Workforce Development shall, when processing initial claims for UI benefits, determine whether a claim is related to the public health emergency declared on March 12, 2020 by Executive Order 72. If a claim is so related, the benefits shall be charged to the fund’s balancing account, rather than to the employer’s own account. (Section 50: 108.07). That state’s share of any benefits paid on a public health emergency-related claim shall also be charged to the fund’s balancing account, rather than the employer’s account. (Section 51: 108.14). This means that COVID-related claims will not adversely affect an employer’s UI tax rate.
  • Temporary removal of requirement to provide copy of employee’s personnel file: During public health emergency, employer is not required to provide copy of personnel records within 7 working days after request; nor is employer required to provide opportunity for inspection of personnel records. (Section 35: 103.13 (2m))
  • Presumption of Workers Compensation injury for first responders contracting COVID-19: Injury to first responder found to be caused by COVID-19 will presumed to be caused by the person’s employment for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits (can be rebutted by specific evidence that injury was caused by exposure outside of work). (Section 33: 102.03).
  • WEDC to Develop Plan to Support Major Industries: No later than June 30, 2020, the WEDC shall submit to the legislature and governor a report that includes a plan for providing support to the major industries in the state that have been adversely affected by COVID-19 public health emergency, including tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, forest products, construction, retail and services. (Section 105: (26m))

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. 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.

DOL Issues Temporary Rule Regarding Paid Leaves Available Under FFCRA

On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division posted a Rule (to be final when published on 4/6/20) issuing regulations under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The regulations provide further clarity as to how the leave provisions of the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) will be implemented. Key provisions include:

Dealing with Flu & Illness in the Workplace

This winter, everyone seems to know someone at home or at the office who has been taken down by some variation of the flu or a virus. What can employers do to reduce the spread of illness and manage employee time off, leaves of absence, and requests to work from home? We have some suggestions!

Prevent the Spread of Illness in the Workplace

  • Review your relevant policies to ensure that they encourage sick workers to stay at home without fear of any reprisals. Remember that you provide paid time off so that employees can care for themselves, take breaks from work to refresh, and much more.
  • Encourage employees to stay home when sick and until they are no longer contagious.
  • Throughout the day, clean and disinfect shared surfaces and objects that are touched frequently (e.g. doorknobs, desks, phones).
  • Create a work environment that promotes preventive actions to reduce the spread of illness. For example, provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, and/or hand sanitizer.
  • Remind employees and loved ones to
    • engage in good self-care, including getting rest and the seasonal flu shot.
    • cough or sneeze into a tissue, sleeve, or arm – not their hands.
    • avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Minimize the Impact on the Business

  • If an employee has reported in sick and asked to be able to work from home, if the employee’s health and job duties do permit working from home, you can allow employees to work from home and make use of affordable telecommuting and teleconferencing technology.
  • If the employee’s health and duties do not permit, then employees should not be expected to or required to work from home. Work with other employees to reassign the duties of ill co-workers to ensure smooth workflow during absences and to lessen the load upon return.

The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to assist and advise if you have questions related to flexible work environments, employee perks, and leaves of absence. Contact us at info@LE-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

New Year’s Resolutions

As we turn the calendar page to January 2019, it's the perfect time to review your company's HR policies and practices to make sure this year is an even better one for your employees and your organization as a whole. Lake Effect HR Advisors and Employment Lawyers are here to support and advise your team and you throughout the year!

Here are our recommended HR Resolutions for 2019:

  1. Annual Employee Handbook Update – Make those changes you have been mulling over for the past few years. While you are at it, have an HR and legal review to:
    1. ensure compliance with all states in which you now have employees;
    2. incorporate current trends that fit your organization;
    3. bring new life to your handbook so that it reflects your organizational culture, voice, mission and strategic vision.
  2. Anti-Harassment & Respectful Workplace Training - Review your anti-harassment policy and procedures and educate your team on the updated policy, including reporting procedures, possible outcomes, the pitfalls of retaliation, acceptable workplace conduct, appreciation, and respect.
  3. Personal Professional Development - Develop a coaching & development process that supports your culture, mission, vision and organizational goals. This investment benefits the employee, the team and the entire organization in the short and long term.
  4. Group Professional Development - Develop a training curriculum that strengthens your team’s people skills; develops their management skills; and reflects your policies, procedures and expectations.
  5. Employee Engagement – Strengthen communication in your workplace using myEverything DiSC to create a common language your team members can use to understand one-another's motivators, priorities and reactions to conflict in the workplace.

For more information or to set up an appointment, contact us today.

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

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