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Coronavirus Federal and State Laws – Things HR Needs to Know Now

Are you on information overload?

We hear you.

Are you trying to navigate things by the week, day, hour? We hear you, too.

For that reason, we have put together, as of this moment, the items we think are important to know.

Employers - what we need to prepare for. Keep in mind that including members of your team, in working through some of these scenarios, would be advantageous for both employers and employees.

  • Remote work capabilities - If you have positions that are not essential to be working onsite at your location, it would be a good precaution to prepare a remote work response (if you haven't already done so).

  • Staggered work shifts - Consider varying shift start times to working every other day, to working one week on, one week off, or some other variation. Staggering work shifts can help prevent burnout and provide for a rotation of workers for whom essential duties require them to be onsite.

  • Reduction in Hours - Consider limiting business hours or shortening schedules.

  • Running the Numbers - Take some time to work through the financials of your organization and what you can and need to be doing. Work with your Accounting and HR teams to help determine what that can look like.

  • Reduction in Force (RIF) – This is the last resort that unfortunately some employers must look at for the moment to determine if they can continue in their organizations. Understanding the process, the timeline, and the resources available for your employees is essential for making tough decisions.

  • Consider resources for your employees should you need to have a reduction in force. Resources can include resume and interview workshops or basic guidance through the unemployment process.

  • Understand that this will be legislated - There are items coming out of local, state, and federal government that will impact every employer and should be considered. Things like Colorado HELP (Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay - paid leave for employees needing to test for COVID-19 and staying home) and Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Federal Legislation to support the need for paid leave) has been signed by President Trump in an article released by Fisher Phillips.


As this is new legislation - key information about the Act is summarized below. This legislation is due to be enacted on April 2, 2020, after being signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020, and remains in effect until December 31, 2020.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act


  • Expanded Coverage and Eligibility - Expanding and amending the FMLA on a temporary basis, this Act would change FMLA coverage required for employers with 50 or more employees to those employers with fewer than 500 employees.

  • Any individual employed for at least 30 days with an employer would be eligible for this leave.

  • EXCEPTION: Healthcare providers and emergency responders, and an exemption for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business (hopefully clarification to come on this).

Reasons for Leave:

  • An employee who is unable to work OR telework, or to care for the employee's child (under 18 years of age) if the child's school or place of care is closed due to a public health emergency.

Paid Leave:

  • Up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave.

  • The first 10 days of Emergency FMLA may be unpaid - which can be substituted by any accrued or earned paid leave (vacation/sick or PTO).

  • After the 10-day waiting period, the employer must pay Full-Time employees at two-thirds the employee's regular rate for the number of hours typically worked/scheduled for this employee.

  • Part-Time employees or those who have irregular schedules are entitled to be paid based on the average number of hours worked in the prior 6 months. If the employee worked for less than 6 months, the calculation should be a reasonable expectation of what the employee would be working at the time of hire.

  • Compensation is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate pay per employee.

Job Restoration:

  • Employers with 25 or more employees will follow standard FMLA regulations which will require the employee to be restored to an equivalent position upon return to work.

  • Employers will less than 25 employees are not required to return the employee to an equivalent position if the position no longer exists due to circumstances caused by a public health emergency.


Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act:


  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees are to provide workers paid leave.

  • Any employee working for an employer for any duration of time.

  • A business employing fewer than 500 employees is required, at the request of the employee, to pay a Full-Time employee for mandated emergency paid sick leave instead of the initial 10 days of unpaid leave permitted by Emergency FMLA.

Reasons for Leave

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID - 19.

  2. The employee is advised by a health provider to self-quarantine due to COVID - 19 concerns.

  3. The employee is experiencing COVID - 19 symptoms and seeking healthcare support.

  4. Caring for an individual (according to Fisher Phillips and National Law Review articles) subject to government orders, or health care provider to quarantine due to COVID - 19 concerns.

  5. Caring for the employee's child if the child's school or place of care is closed.

  6. 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.

Paid Leave

  • 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee's regular rate - should the employee be affected directly.

  • Two-thirds the employee's regular rate to care for others in situations where the employee needs to care for another person.

  • Emergency responders and healthcare providers can provide paid leave at their election.

  • Compensation is capped at $511 per day and up to $5110 per employee for their own use and $200 per day and up to $2,000 to care for others.

  • This leave will not carry over to the following year and may be in addition to any paid sick leave already offered by employers.

  • Part-Time employees or those who have irregular schedules are entitled to be paid based on the average number of hours worked in the prior 6 months. If the employee worked for less than 6 months, the calculation should be a reasonable expectation of what the employee would be working at the time of hire.


In the Act there are additional areas that are specific to Coverage for Testing for COVID-19 and telehealth services through medical plans (insured, self-funded, and grandfathered plans), Emergency Unemployment Stabilization regulations, as well as Tax Credits for businesses required to provide under the Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave, and Emergency, Paid Sick Leave.

We have heard there are other bills being introduced to help reduce the economic concerns for many small business owners. The Small Business Administration is also working toward finding solutions to help small business owners mitigate the effects of this pandemic in their companies.


In our next blog posting, we will focus on reminders about the things we are forgetting about with all of this change happening. Coming Soon!

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