Wi16 Training: New Labor Legal guidelines and Finest Practices within the Time of COVID

On Saturday February 20th, Pinnacle President of Human Resources Rose Miller and Senior HR Consultant John Kelly presented best practices for managing employees in the age of COVID at the Virtual Winter Institute 2021. Miller and Kelly offered a hands-on approach and best practices for managing federal and state leave laws (with or without the presence of COVID). Insight into the hesitation and availability of vaccines; and an overview of the importance of updating your policies and procedures.

Booksellers can view a recording of this session along with educational materials in the Educational Resources section on BookWeb.org.

Here are some of the key points of the session:

  • There are a number of laws that affect all employers. Each one depends on the size of the employer.

  • Non-COVID-19 specific laws include: the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (for companies with 50 employees or more); State paid family leave; State or local sick and safe vacation; and the Americans with Disabilities Act / Department of Human Rights Laws (for companies with 15 or more employees, but some states may have a lower threshold).

  • Laws specific to COVID-19 include: FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) (all workers had to offer this in 2020, employers can choose to offer this in 2021), including emergency paid sick leave and the law on Emergency Medical Leave, and COVID-19 State Paid Sick Leave, which includes Family Paid Leave / Disability Leave.

  • If employers choose to continue the FFCRA in 2021, they should clearly communicate this to employees. Booksellers can see who is qualified for this information here. You can find more information on tax credits related to COVID here. In addition, Miller outlines the qualifying conditions in the recording at 7:43 a.m. Booksellers should note that vacation tax credits will expire on March 31, 2021.

  • Employers in a state that has their own COVID-related vacation must match that vacation with the FFCRA. If the FFCRA had been more generous than their state vacation in 2020, employers should have chosen the FFCRA. This year employers can choose between the more generous ones.

  • The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has given employers the option to require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Exceptions for health reasons and for religious reasons apply.

  • Whenever vacation laws are passed, employers need to update their manual to ensure that their employees have access to the necessary information. Miller recommended adding a “Pandemic Supplement” with specific information.

  • Miller urged employers, especially those of small and medium-sized businesses, to have a qualified, knowledgeable contact who can handle all types of vacation. Employers also need to train their HR team and managers as these are the employees who most frequently ask questions about vacation laws and regulations. Human resources training is also important. By taking these steps, not only can you communicate effectively with employees, but you can also reduce the risk of a lawsuit.

  • Develop documented systems to record the various vacation times for all employees and make sure you keep track of how much vacation is left for each employee. Also, create a management process to streamline how employees can request leave.

  • Reduce the risk by maintaining the confidentiality of personal health information. There are rules about where confidential information is stored. It is the employer’s responsibility to comply with these regulations.

  • Employers should also find out about eligibility requirements for certain types of leave, the ADA application process, and how to clarify workers’ return to work.

  • Miller also recommended employers to contact ADA compliance with any questions.

Pinnacle HR offers ABA bookstore members a scalable and flexible approach to the type of HR support they need. Members have access to a certified HR professional who can provide assistance in developing or updating employee handbooks, wage benchmarking data, HR forms, training programs, and advice and opinion on various HR-related issues.

Contact Senior HR Consultant John Kelly at (845) 464-6123 to get started with Pinnacle HR. More information can be found here.

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