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What should I do if my employee discloses that their family member or roommate has COVID-19?

Employees who have come within six feet of someone who is infected should self-quarantine for 14 days after their last exposure per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During this time, they should take their temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19. Currently, the known symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, chills, new loss of taste or smell, or shortness of breath.  Because COVID-19 is widespread in so many communities, the CDC recommends that everyone practice social distancing, be alert for COVID-19 symptoms, and follow CDC guidanceif symptoms develop.  Remember to maintain the confidentiality o

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We are reopening after business closure due to COVID-19. Can we bring some employees back, but not others?

Yes. If you are recalling some positions, but not others, you should document the business reasons why only those positions were recalled. If you are recalling some employees in a certain position, but not everyone in that position, you should document the objective, job-related criteria you used to decide which employees to bring back. Seniority or previous job performance, for example, would be acceptable criteria and relatively easy to defend if you are ever challenged. Content provided by TPC HR Support Center.

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FFCRA: New Rule and Guidance from the DOL and IRS

New FFCRA Guidance in Temporary Rule and FAQsThe DOL has released rules related to administration of leaves under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and answered more common questions on their Questions and Answers page. Below are some key highlights to keep in mind when administering these leaves. Documentation: Employers may not require more documentation from employees than is described below. For instance, employers may not request a doctor’s note or an official notice from a closed school or daycare.Childcare Provider: The definition of childcare provider includes anyone who generally cares for the children in question. This includes individuals paid to prov

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Do we have to give employees who smoke additional smoke breaks or allow them to return to work smelling strongly of smoke? We’ve received complaints from both other employees and customers.

No, you’re not required to provide additional breaks to employees who smoke, and you also don’t have to tolerate them smelling like smoke. These employees can be expected to adhere to the same policies as any other employee. To that end, if you allow for a certain number of breaks of a certain length, employees who smoke aren’t entitled to anything extra. And if you have a policy that addresses smells, you can refer to that when addressing the odor of cigarettes.  If you don’t have specific policies addressing breaks and smells, there’s no time like the present to implement them. Break policies are fairly straightforward, but employers sometimes struggle with delicate issu

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COVID-19: April 1 Effective Date for FFCRA Leaves

On Tuesday, March 24, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the effective date of the leaves available through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will be April 1, 2020.  Based on the language in the bill, the effective date was widely believed to be April 2.  The DOL announced the effective date in a “Questions and Answers” document where it also provided answers to some common questions. Other than the April 1 effective date, the information is in line with what we have been advising. The DOL also released two Fact Sheets, both of which appear to contain the same information, but it’s possible they will each be updated in the future with i

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Some of our employees have said they don’t feel safe returning to work. Can we just permanently replace them? What other options do we have?

We recommend caution when deciding to replace an employee who refuses to work because of concerns about COVID-19. Here are few things to keep in mind: Recalled employees may have a right to job-protected leave under a city ordinance, state law, or the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). See our overview of the FFCRA on the HR Support Center.Employees who are in a high-risk category — either because they are immunocompromised or have an underlying condition — may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or state law if their situation doesn’t qualify them for leave under the FFCRA (or if they have run out of that

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We suspect that one of our employees harassed another, but we only have their conflicting stories to go on—no witnesses, video, or emails.

The accuser’s account of the incident seems much more credible than that of the accused. Can we discipline with only this information? Probably. It would be a good idea to consider whether your investigation was thorough. If it was, and all you have to go on is the testimony of the accuser and the accused, then you should take their credibility into consideration and make a determination based on their respective accounts.  Here are some factors to consider when determining credibility: Each employee’s reputation for truthfulness and accuracyIf the story each employee presents is plausible Whether one of the employees has a motive to be untruthful Whether one emp

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Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18, 2020 and goes into effect today, April 1.  The Department of Labor has provided additional guidance on the new law, which we strongly encourage employers to read. We also encourage you to see our COVID-19 guidance and resources on the TPC HR Support Center, which you can find by searching COVID-19 within that site.  SummaryFor certain circumstances related to COVID-19, employees will be eligible for: Up to two weeks of sick leave (full pay for self, 2/3 pay for family care) for illness, quarantine, or school closuresUp to 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for school clo

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Can we reduce pay because of economic slowdown due to COVID-19?

You can reduce an employee's rate of pay based on business or economic slowdown, provided that this is not done retroactively. For instance, if you give employees notice that their pay will change on the 10th, and your payroll period runs from the 1st through the 15th, make sure that their next check still reflects the higher rate of pay for the first 9 days of the payroll period.  Non-exempt employees (those entitled to overtime)A non-exempt employee's new rate of pay must still meet the applicable federal, state, or local minimum wage. Employees must be given notice of the change at the time of the change, or before. This gives them the ability to stop working if they don’t

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We’ve heard from staff that one of our employees suffers from chronic back pain. We’re concerned that this employee’s job duties may be aggravating their condition. Can we ask them about this?

No. Unless you have objective evidence such as direct visual observation that the back pain is interfering with the employee’s work, you should leave it alone. If at some point in the future it becomes apparent that the employee is having issues while working (for example, unable to lift as usual, holding their back, groaning, etc.), then you should definitely speak with them to understand if there may be some restrictions that would affect their ability to continue doing the essential functions of their job. If so, you should discuss whether there is a reasonable accommodation you can offer to make that possible. You may be able to request documentation from the employee’s health care

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