Q: What is the definition of “close contact” for purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing and quarantining requirements?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance that significantly expands the definition of “close contact” for purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing and quarantining requirements. Previously, the CDC defined “close contact” to include only certain individuals who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of someone with COVID-19. Because this previous definition was in place before the CDC issued its mask guidance, many, including employers, inferred that “close contact” meant contact without any face coverings.


Continue Reading Too Close for Comfort: CDC’s Latest Guidance Significantly Expands the Definition of “Close Contact”

Q: What do I need to know about the recently enacted Philadelphia ordinance providing Philadelphia employees with paid public health emergency leave?

A: On September 17, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed an ordinance, providing paid “public health emergency” leave benefits to workers in Philadelphia who physically report to their jobs and who may not have been covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) — including employees working for businesses with more than 500 employees. The ordinance applies to all employees (and some nonemployees, including independent contractors) working within the geographic boundaries of the City of Philadelphia for at least 40 hours in a year. Potential nonemployees covered by the ordinance include domestic workers (e.g., housekeepers), health care professionals, home care workers, and gig workers (e.g., individuals driving for rideshare or food delivery services).
Continue Reading Philadelphia Adopts Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance

Q: Is there new legislation that expands COVID-19 protections to California employees?

A: Since the beginning of 2020, employers have had to make significant changes to their operations due to an increasing number of newly enacted legislation and requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter the final quarter of 2020, California employers must again quickly respond to new legislation that expands COVID-19 protections to California employees and imposes stringent requirements on California employers. This month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed three COVID-19-related bills into law that affect employee rights: (1) SB 1159, (2) AB 659, and (3) AB 1867.

Senate Bill 1159: “Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19”

Effective immediately for California employers with 5 or more employees, Senate Bill 1159 creates a presumption of entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits for employees infected with COVID-19 if:

  • The employee tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after performing labor or services at the employee’s “place of employment” (excluding the employee’s residence) at the employer’s direction; and
  • The employee tests positive during an “outbreak” at the specific place of employment (as determined by the employer’s claims administrator).


Continue Reading California Governor Expands COVID-19 Protections for California Employees and Imposes Additional Requirements on California Employers

Q. Are there any COVID-related tax incentives that could benefit employers and employees?

A. Employers and employees alike continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employers have reduced revenues and need to conserve resources. Many employees have been furloughed or permanently laid off and may need to prematurely access vested retirement benefits to make ends meet. Other employees need leave from work due to their own or a family member’s COVID-related illnesses. COVID-related tax incentives fall into two broad categories: incentives that advantage employers and incentives that advantage employees. Our Firm’s prior alert, Revised Summary of CARES Act and FFCRA Tax Credit and Payroll Tax Relief, provides an overview of the tax advantaged programs that are available to employers. These generally advantage the employer by providing a credit to the employer’s payroll taxes or by providing a low interest loan to the employer. There are also programs that an employer can implement that can save the employer money in the short- and long-term. In addition, there are programs that ease an employee’s access to amounts the employee has accrued under an employer’s tax qualified retirement program, and others that permit employers to provide employees with certain special benefits during these difficult times. Employees can even provide assistance to others impacted by COVID-19 through leave sharing/donation programs. Each program is outlined below.
Continue Reading PROVIDING COVID-19 FINANCIAL RELIEF: How to Free Up Access to Employer Assets and/or Ease Employee Access to Vested Benefits

Q. How will the federal court decision impact business policies and practices that address FFCRA leave?

A. On August 3, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down four parts of the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As a result of the decision:
Continue Reading Federal Court Decision Changes How Employers Must Implement Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Q. Have there been any changes to the CDC Guidance on testing?

A. Until late July, the CDC offered a test-based or symptom-based strategy to govern the timing of “discontinuing isolation” for a person known or suspected to be infected with COVID-19. In an abrupt change in guidance, the CDC announced a test-based strategy is no longer recommended to determine when to discontinue home isolation, except in certain circumstances. The CDC now recommends following only a modified symptom-based strategy, which means:
Continue Reading COVID-19 Testing No Longer Generally Recommended for Discontinuing Isolation, CDC Says

Q. What is the new deadline to file an EEO-1 report?

A. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a press release on May 7, 2020 that it will postpone its annual collection of EEO-1 demographic data until 2021, in light of the circumstances surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak. This comes at a time when many employers were already waiting for a determination as to when the EEOC would begin collecting reports from 2019.
Continue Reading EEOC Delays EEO-1 Data Reporting Deadline to 2021 Due to COVID-19

On Wednesday, April 15, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, in conjunction with the state’s Department of Health, announced an Order requiring businesses to implement new safety measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Order details a litany of new “social distancing, mitigation, and cleaning protocols” that businesses must observe with respect to both employees and customers. Effective immediately, the Order applies to “life-sustaining businesses” authorized to maintain operations during the crisis under a prior order issued in March, including grocery stores and pharmacies. The Governor has directed a number of state agencies to enforce the new requirements, including the Department of Labor & Industry, the Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Continue Reading Employers Should Act Now in Response to New Order from the Pennsylvania Department of Health