Employers are responding to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak in a variety of ways. There is no one correct way to respond, and there is no one-size-fits-all policy that must be implemented. However, there is no doubt that given the rapid spread of the outbreak in the United States and globally, employers must now take steps to help keep their employees safe.
Much has been written and disseminated by law firms specializing in employment law (including several Western Growers Ag Legal Network members) and government agencies advising employers on the specific steps they should consider taking to help avoid and mitigate potential exposure to the virus. Below are links to several such sources. Bookmark this page, and monitor it often – as COVID-19 continues to spread, so too will new information and resources become available.
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has great insights on the legal issues the coronavirus threat raises for businesses:
For businesses owners and operators:
- Are You Responsible for Reporting Coronavirus Cases?
- Do Force Majeure Clauses Cover a Coronavirus Pandemic?
- Would Business Interruption Insurance Cover Losses Stemming from a Coronavirus Pandemic?
- Health Plan Coverage of Coronavirus Testing and Treatment
- What Employers Need to Know about HIPAA Compliance during the Coronavirus Outbreak
- Restricting Employees’ Work-Related Travel in Light of the Coronavirus Threat
As issues and concerns around Coronavirus/COVID-19 unfold daily, employers must prepare to address the threat as it relates to the health and safety of their workforce. Keep up to date with the latest available information and resources here. Jackson Lewis Resources include these items, Coronavirus in a Flash: Updates, Special Reports and Advice for Employers, California Paid Sick Leave and Coronavirus, and Travel Restrictions, New Facts on Coronavirus Should be Continually Monitored by Employers, among other resources.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses particular concerns for employers for several reasons, beyond the obvious need to protect employees who may be at risk and the need to address employee concerns: coronavirus might be transmittable in the workplace, and is serious; medical experts are still searching for a test to detect its presence; the incubation period after exposure but before symptoms appear is believed to be a minimum of several days; and early symptoms can mimic less severe respiratory problems, such as the flu. Littler’s COVID-19 resources page includes: Employer FAQs, Employer Action Items, “Top Takeaways” for Employers, and Guidance for Business Preparation, among other resources.
As COVID-19 continues to develop in the US and globally, governments, industries, and clients continue to adapt to the emerging challenges.
Dentons has formed a multi-disciplinary COVID-19/Pandemic Special Situations Team (PSST) in the US to facilitate, accelerate and proactively support client service. Reflecting the breadth and scope of our Firm, the PSST is led by a diverse group of lawyers and professionals. Coordinating with colleagues in the US and globally, the PSST is dedicated to offering clients the best of our insights, guidance and counsel in addressing COVID-19 related issues.
As the world’s largest law firm, we are already advising across a wide range of issue areas related to COVID-19, including, but not limited to, the following concerns:
- Shutdowns, workplace disruptions, and workplace safety and health considerations due to COVID-19; Federal, state, and local government regulations; Air and other travel restrictions; Immigration status and other employment considerations, among others.
Fisher Phillips has assembled a cross-disciplinary taskforce of attorneys across the country to address the many employment-related issues facing employers in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The COVID-19 Taskforce has created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, which has been continually updated since first published on March 3 and will continue to be updated as events warrant. It now includes sections on Remote Work Policies and Workers’ Compensation, added on March 9.
The California Division of Labor Standards has an FAQ including answers to questions such as:
- Can an employer require a worker who is quarantined to exhaust paid sick leave?
- Is an employee entitled to compensation for reporting to work and being sent home? and
- Can an employer require a worker to provide information about recent travel to countries considered to be high-risk for exposure to the coronavirus?
The EDD provides a variety of support services to employers and individuals affected by COVID-19 in California. California Employment Development Department (EDD) Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
For guidance on the disease, visit the California Department of Public Health website.
If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim.
For information on protecting workers from COVID-19, refer to the Cal/OSHA Guidance on Coronavirus.
Government Resource from CA Labor & Workforce Development: https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/
Employers planning a closure or major layoffs as a result of the coronavirus can get help through the Rapid Response program. Rapid Response teams will meet with you to discuss your needs, help avert potential layoffs, and provide immediate on-site services to assist workers facing job losses. For more information, refer to the Rapid Response Services for Businesses Fact Sheet (DE 87144RRB) (PDF) or contact your local America’s Job Center of California SM.
Consult these additional resources for up-to-date information.
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