On prime of the numerous quick human assets challenges the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents—coordinating a protected return to work, managing requests for go away, implementing telework applications, wage reductions, and extra—employers need to the longer term to organize for the following challenges to come back.
Since March 2020, plaintiffs have filed greater than 1,400 employment-related lawsuits stemming from COVID-19 below numerous federal, state, and native legal guidelines addressing office well being and security, nondiscrimination, and employment termination.
- Count on elevated litigation over claims of “off-the-clock work” by teleworking workers.
- Be ready to reply when an worker can not or won’t take the vaccine for spiritual, medical, or private causes.
- Board focus: Employers’ obligation to make sure employees’s security and well being is tougher than ever.
Listed here are 10 key areas of employment-related danger arising out of the pandemic to think about and monitor within the months forward.
Wage and hour challenges
1. Off-the-clock work. Employers should pay nonexempt workers for all hours labored, together with extra time pay required by each federal and state regulation. And in lots of states, employers should guarantee workers take obligatory meal and relaxation breaks.
Correct timekeeping and break time compliance is more difficult when nonexempt workers will not be within the bodily office and could also be working extra variable schedules than earlier than the pandemic started.
We count on to see elevated litigation over claims of “off-the-clock work” by teleworking workers. This has all the time been a difficult situation for employers however is compounded by the numerous improve in telework.
2. Expense reimbursement. Many workers have incurred prices related to telework. Relying on the jurisdiction, an employer might must reimburse the worker for prices related to telework preparations.
Carefully overview relevant reimbursement statutes to make sure compliance. A number of class-action lawsuits have been filed for the prices of prorated house web and cellphone plans, and even for prorata lease for house places of work. Employers that beforehand supplied a nominal stipend for house web entry and cellphone use are being shocked with claims the stipend is now disproportionate to the time spent on work capabilities.
3. Exemption standing. There could also be potential modifications to workers’ exempt standing caused by modifications in job duties for exempt staff.
4. Pay charges. Take into account the calculation of the common price of pay for extra time when disbursing “hazard pay” bonuses.
Downsizing and reductions in drive
5. Selective remembers from furlough. As credit score unions return to prepandemic operations or return workers from furlough, they need to be aware of Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act obligations.
That is very true the place federal funding to keep up jobs (akin to below the Paycheck Protection Program) could also be working out, and employers are dealing with the unwelcome prospect of getting to let staff go, doubtlessly triggering WARN discover necessities.
Credit score unions must carefully study and perceive their WARN exceptions and obligations when returning workers or reinstituting layoffs and furloughs. A number of states even have their very own mini-WARN legal guidelines to think about and analyze.
Go away and lodging claims
6. Weak demographics. Be aware of potential pitfalls when returning employees to the office, even once you imagine you’re performing in an worker’s finest pursuits.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has cautioned towards doable an infection management methods and conduct which will battle with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII, or state equal employment alternative legal guidelines.
Whereas credit score unions could also be significantly involved for extra susceptible workers, the EEOC has made clear that employers might not stop older employees or pregnant workers from returning to work if they want to take action, even when the employer believes it’s defending these staff from danger.
7. Vaccination-related requests. Whereas employers hope a COVID-19 vaccine will allow them to return to some semblance of a prepandemic office, there shall be important delays till a vaccine is accessible for most people.
From an employment perspective, employers want to think about a broad vary of points together with however not restricted to equal employment alternative compliance, labor relations, staff’ compensation, worker security, and different elements such because the anti-vaccine motion.
As soon as the vaccine is accessible to workers, be ready to reply when an worker can not or won’t take the vaccine for spiritual, medical, or private causes. Additionally, be ready to weigh competing calls for from employees involved about their very own well being vulnerabilities if co-workers don’t get vaccinated.
Take into account all of those elements when creating a plan for coping with a vaccine.
Leaves of absence
8. Paid-leave protections. Though the paid go away provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired Dec. 31, 2020, quite a few state and native governments have adopted new legal guidelines, ordinances, or rules offering or extending paid go away to workers in the course of the pandemic.
Whereas the brand new pandemic-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 doesn’t require employers to supply workers with paid sick or household go away after Dec. 31, 2020, employers who select to permit workers to take such go away for a pandemic-related cause via March 31, 2021, can declare the payroll tax credit score.
Company interpretations of protected use for these go away applications have modified all through the pandemic. Monitor developments on this space carefully, and be sure to coordinate go away applications to fulfill various federal, state, and native necessities.
Security and well being
9. Offering a protected office. Employers’ obligation to make sure employees’s security and well being is tougher than ever. Employers are balancing federal steerage and suggestions with evolving native steerage and orders. Furthermore, completely different sectors of the financial system might have drastically completely different necessities and pointers to comply with upon workers’ bodily return to work, significantly for public-facing companies like credit score unions.
An employer that doesn’t adequately undertake measures to stop the unfold of COVID-19 may face legal responsibility for failure to adjust to the Occupational
Safety & Health Administration. The Labor Department has been very lively for the reason that spring of 2020 in holding employers accountable for alleged security violations.
10. Retaliation. Workers who’ve continued to work in important companies in the course of the pandemic more and more are submitting complaints concerning private protecting tools, social distancing, and different well being and security measures. On the identical time, many employers face the fact of adjusting or decreasing hours, slicing pay, or eliminating positions as a result of decline in financial exercise.
The mixture of elevated well being and security complaints with a simultaneous escalation of employment actions many employers should take resulting from enterprise necessity has additionally led to a rise in retaliation claims being filed below state and federal regulation.
MICHAEL GOTZLER is a shareholder for Littler, a world employment and labor regulation observe. Contact him at 608-287-3701 or at [email protected]. This text doesn’t represent authorized recommendation.
This text appeared within the Spring 2021 situation of Credit score Union Journal. Subscribe here.