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Archive for March, 2020

COVID-19: IT IS NOW LAW–EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE

 

Covidi-19

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020, after the Senate sent it to President Trump for his signature.  The law becomes effective 15 days after President Trump signed it.

Private employers with under 500 employees will need to provide each employee paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because:

(1) The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

(2) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.

(3) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

(4) The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in paragraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).

(5) The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.

(6) The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Additional Provisions:

  • Full time employees will be entitled to 80 hours.  Part time employees are entitled to the number of hours equal to the hours that such employee works on average over a 2-week period.
    • In the case of a part-time employee whose schedule varies from week to week to such an extent that an employer is unable to determine with certainty the number of hours the employee would have worked if such employee had not taken paid sick time, the employer shall use the following in place of such number:
      • (i) a number equal to the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled per day over the 6-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes the paid sick time, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type; or
      • (ii) If the employee did not work over such period, the reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring of the average number of hours per day that the employee would normally be scheduled to work.
  • All employees will have access to the full amount of time off under this Emergency Paid Sick Leave immediately and without regard to how long he or she has been employed.
  • Employers may not require its employees to use any other paid leave provided to him or her by the employer before using the Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
  • Employers who have employees that are health care providers or emergency responders may elect to exclude such employees from this Emergency Paid Sick Leave law.
  • Employers will be required to post (where notices are customarily posted), a notice which will be prepared or approved by the Secretary of Labor outlining the major provisions of this law.  And this new law also requires that the Secretary of Labor make, publicly available, a notice that meets all necessary requirements no later than 7 days after the date of enactment of this law.
  • Paid sick time in terms of wages paid to such individual employees do not need to exceed-
    • $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for a use described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) above; and
    • $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for a use described in paragraphs (4), (5), or (6) above

SPECIAL RULE FOR CARE OF FAMILY MEMBERS UNDER EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE:
Paid sick time provided for any use described in paragraphs (4), (5), or (6) above need only paid at two-thirds of such employees’ wages.

  • Wages required to be paid under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave will not be subject to the 6.2 percent social security payroll tax typically paid by employers on such wages.
  • Employers can employ a “reasonable notice requirement.” After the first workday (or portion thereof) that an employee receives paid sick time under this new law, an employer may require the employee to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving such paid sick time.

Also please note that employers are prohibited from requiring, as a condition of

  • Also please note that employers are prohibited from requiring, as a condition of providing Emergency Paid Sick Leave, that the employee involved search for or find a replacement employee to cover the hours during which the employee is using paid sick time.
  • Finally, the language of this amended bill suggests that an employee can use his or her Emergency Paid Sick Leave during the initial 10 days of unpaid leave under the expanded FMLA. The Department of Labor is expected to provide additional guidance within the 15 day window before this law takes effect.

This Emergency Paid Sick Leave law is slated to expire on December 31, 2020.

This guest editor for this blog post is:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.
 

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

COVID-19 AT WORK—RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES

Covid 19 - Workplace

My employee has exhibited signs of Covid-19, has been around others who have, or has tested positive for COVID-19—Now What?

As the House re-sends a slightly re-tooled emergency COVID-19 Bill to the Senate, many Employers are left wondering, “How do I deal with employees in the workplace who have come in contact with a COVID-19 person, who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19.”

First of all, please remember that your Human Resource Department along with frontline Supervisors, Managers and the like should re-familiarize themselves with the company’s plans and policies concerning PTO, sick pay, vacation time or any company benefits impacted. While, as of the writing of this article, the nation has no federally required emergency amended FMLA, paid sick leave or other time off, a company may want to implement its own emergency plan to address employees being absent from work. This may include relaxing parameters for how and when employees may use the existing company provided benefits. For example:

  • In Arizona, employees under the state mandated paid sick leave may not be able to use such sick leave until their 91st day of employment. Perhaps the employer may want to relax this requirement in an effort to persuade new employees, who may feel financial pressure to keep working, to stay home.
  • If your company policy for vacation time allows it to be used only for vacation and not sick time, perhaps you decide to make an allowance in this environment that any time off accrued can run afoul for what it was originally intended.

These are just but two examples of how companies can incentivize employees and build morale, within its own company issued benefits to keep employees at home and its workplace healthier in this unprecedented time.

But what does a company do if an employee suddenly falls ill [who has been at work] or informs you that he/she may have come in contact with a COVID-19 infected person or, tested positive for COVID-19? A company may want to consider any or all of the steps below:

  1. Instruct that employee to stay home for at least the recommended quarantined time of 14 days and encourage them to contact a qualified health professional
  2. Ask the employee when he or she first noticed symptoms
  3. Determine an approximate window prior to the first noticed symptoms identified in #2: a 14-15 day window prior to the date the employee indicated any “first” symptoms.
  4. Ask the employee to recall his or her movements at the company from the date the window in #3 establishes to the date he or she was mandated to stay at home by the company. Those areas of the company should be disinfected.
  5. Ask the employee to recall employees and/or clients he or she may have come in contact with from the date the window in #3 establishes to the date he or she was mandated to stay at home by the company.
  6. Contact the employees identified in response to #5 WITHOUT DISCLOSING THE INFECTED EMPLOYEE’S NAME. Advise them of the situation and have them stay home for a 14 day self- quarantine as well as encourage them to reach out to a health care provider to be tested.

To the extent possible, and if not already considered, all employees that have the capability to work from home, should be working from home in this type of environment. Also remember clear, concise and open communication to calm the workplace is needed.

Guest Blog Editor:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, is a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

 

HOW TO DETERMINE NEW HIRE SALARIES

New Hires

Without established salary ranges and salary structure, setting a salary can be like spinning the roulette wheel.  Most companies have salary offer guidelines based on competitive market data and established salary ranges for positions.  Ideally, you will have these established tools and practices in place before you have to make a salary offer.  Salary scales are a valuable tool in recruiting and hiring new employees as well as providing baseline amounts in making salary adjustments for existing employees.

There are many things to consider when determining where to set a salary for a new hire including the candidate’s experience and qualifications that are either required or needed for the job, current salaries of employees in the same or comparable worth jobs, salary range, geography, industry conventions, and company budget.  Other considerations may be bargaining agreements, prevailing wage contracts or arrangements, and the company’s compensation philosophy.

To determine accurate external wage comparisons, employers should carefully define the appropriate market and competitive set.  Defining the market too narrowly can result in wages that are higher than necessary. Conversely, defining the market too broadly may cause an organization to set wages too low to attract and retain competent employees.  Paying prevailing wages can also be considered a moral obligation.  This focus on external competitiveness enables a company to develop compensation structures and programs that are competitive with other companies in similar labor markets.  Employee perceptions of equity and inequity are equally important and should be carefully considered when a company sets compensation objectives.  Employees who perceive equitable pay treatment may be more motivated to perform better or to support a company’s goals.

Internal equity is of equal importance to external competitiveness when setting pay.  You want employees to feel they are paid fairly as compared to their co-workers as well as to adhere to regulations regarding pay discrimination.  If starting salaries are negotiated, ensure that such a practice does not have an adverse impact on women or minority workers.  Generally, jobs do not have to be identical for equal pay to be required, only substantially equal in terms of skill, effort, and job responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.  For discriminatory purposes, pay refers to salary, overtime, bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, and all other benefits and compensation of any kind paid to employees.  Pay disparities may be allowed under a seniority system, a merit system, or a system measuring earnings by quality or quantity of production.  Hardly anyone notices when you pay “above average” compared to the outside world, but any perceived deficiency in “internal equity” can come back to bite you.

As you can see there are many factors and considerations when setting pay and it can sometimes feel like a delicate balancing act.  But doing your homework, keeping up with the external market, and addressing internal pay inequities will go a long way to simplifying the task of setting new hire salaries.  It is important to ensure that the approach taken is guided by the compensation philosophy and is applied consistently.  An effective Salary Administration Program allows a company to meet the basic objectives of compensation:  focus, attract, retain, and motivate.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and are ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs support your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys, and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data, and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.