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.

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.

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.

Illinois Provides Model for Newly Required Anti-Harassment Training

On April 30, the Illinois Department of Human Rights released a model training presentation that employers can use to comply with Illinois’ new sexual harassment prevention training requirement. An employer may use this model training, or it may develop a training specifically tailored to its organization, provided that the training meets the state’s minimum legal requirements.

In 2019, Illinois adopted a new law requiring employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all Illinois employees. This requirement also applies to employers based in other states that have one or more employees working remotely in Illinois or working at a customer’s worksite in Illinois. All Illinois employees must be trained by December 31, 2020. Restaurants and bars must also provide supplemental sexual harassment prevention training targeted specifically for those industries.

Two major points about the new training requirement from the state’s FAQs:

  • Although employers are not required to train independent contractors, Illinois strongly advises that independent contractors receive training if they work on-site at an employer’s workplace or interact with employees.
  • Employers should include in their anti-harassment training any employee who is based outside of Illinois but regularly works with employees in the state. For example, a manager based in Wisconsin who supervises employees working in Illinois should be included in the training.

While virtual training may be the only option in our current environment, employers should keep in mind that the EEOC has found that anti-harassment training is most effective when it is tailored to the specific workplace and workforce, as well as provided in-person, with interactive discussion, and by an experienced trainer.

The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to assist and advise if you have questions related to anti-harassment or other employee training. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

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.

DOL Ends Temporary Non-Enforcement of New Paid Leave Protections

As of April 21, 2020, covered employers (with fewer than 500 employees) across the country must be in full compliance with the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which became effective April 1, 2020. On April 20, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the end of the temporary period of non-enforcement, which was intended to allow employers time to understand and come into compliance with the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family Medical Leave laws.

Moving forward, full compliance with FFCRA will be expected. Moreover, proper documentation and administration of the new Emergency Paid Sick Leaves and Emergency Family Medical Leaves will be critical to receiving payroll tax credits for the sick leave wages provided to employees under the new law.

If you have any questions or need assistance administering the new FFCRA paid leave laws, 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 Technical Assistance Q&As Update

Last Friday, April 17, 2020, the EEOC updated its Technical Assistance Q&As about COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO laws. The updated Q&As reiterate prior guidance and offer some new information. Key provisions for employers include the following:

  • Disability-related inquiries and exams
    • During the pandemic, employers may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or sore throat. Employers should rely on CDC and other public health authorities for guidance on additional, emerging symptoms which may be associated with COVID-19. Such new symptoms may include a loss of smell or taste, as well as gastrointestinal problems. (See A.1-A.2)
    • Employers may measure employees’ body temperature at work and maintain a log of its results. See below regarding maintaining the confidentiality of such information. (See A.3, B.2)
    • Employers may require employees with symptoms of COVID-19 to leave the workplace and/or stay home. (See A.4)
  • Confidentiality of Medical Information
    • Employers must maintain all information about employee illnesses, including body temperature logs, separately from personnel files. Such information must be maintained as confidential medical records in compliance with ADA. All medical information relating to COVID-19 may be stored in employees’ existing medical files. (See B.1)
    • An employer may disclose the name of an employee with COVID-19 to a public health agency. (See B.3) Note that this does not include disclosure of the employee’s name to co-workers.
    • A staffing agency or contractor who learns that one of its temporary workers has COVID-19 may notify and disclose the name of that temporary worker to the employer where the worker has been placed. (See B.4)
  • Hiring and Onboarding
    • An employer may screen job applicants for symptoms of COVID-19 and take applicants’ body temperatures after making a conditional job offer, as long as it does so for all entering employees for the job. (See C.1-C.2)
    • If an employer needs an applicant to start immediately, but the applicant has COVID-19 or related symptoms, the employer may withdraw a job offer to the applicant. An employer may not withdraw a job offer simply because an applicant is age 65 or older or pregnant and is at increased risk for COVID-19. The employer may propose telework or delaying a start date. (See C.4-C.5)
  • Reasonable Accommodation
    • Employers may be required to consider reasonable accommodations that can offer protection to an individual at increased risk for COVID-19 in the workplace if they do not cause undue hardship to the employer. Flexibility by both employers and employees is key in assessing potential accommodations. Keep in mind that federal agencies are encouraging employers and employees to engage in discussions and come up with creative solutions to foster the ability to work. (See D.1)
    • An employee whose preexisting mental illness or disorder is exacerbated by the pandemic may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation, absent undue hardship. Likewise, an employee who was receiving a reasonable accommodation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic may be entitled to an additional or altered accommodation, absent undue hardship. (See D.2, D.4)
    • If an employee requests a reasonable accommodation during the pandemic, the employer may still request information to determine whether the employee has a covered “disability” under the ADA. The employer may also engage in the interactive process and request information about why an accommodation is needed. (See D.5-D.6)
    • During the pandemic, where an employer may have limited time to discuss accommodation requests, an employer may forgo or shorten the interactive process and provide a temporary accommodation to an employee. The employer may also provide a requested accommodation on an interim or trial basis, or place an end date on the accommodation. (See D.7)
    • Circumstances created by the pandemic are relevant to determining whether a requested accommodation will cause significant difficulty or expense for an employer and, thus, pose an undue hardship. An employer’s difficulty in acquiring or providing certain accommodations, sudden loss of income stream, or reduction in discretionary funds due to the pandemic are relevant considerations in assessing whether a requested accommodation imposes an undue hardship, meaning significant difficulty or expense. (See D.9-D.11)
  • Pandemic-Related Harassment
    • Employers can minimize pandemic-related harassment by reminding employees that fear of the pandemic should not be misdirected against individuals because of any protected characteristic, including national origin or race. This holds true even when employees are teleworking or still working on site during the pandemic. As workplaces reopen or return to full operations, employers should reiterate prohibitions against all forms of harassment and discrimination and train managers to watch for and report any issues. (See E.1-E.2)
  • Return to Work
    • When employees begin to return to the physical workplace, employers can implement screening measures (i.e. take temperatures, ask questions about symptoms) as long as they are consistent with advice from the CDC and public health authorities regarding that type of workplace at that time. (See G.1)
    • Employers may need to consider requests for modified protective gear as reasonable accommodations when employees with disabilities or who wear certain clothing as part of their religious observation return to the workplace.

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.

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.

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