Reopening the Workplace Virtual Conference: Navigating the New Reality of COVID-19

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Thursday, January 1, 1970
Run time: 1 hour
Impact of Distancing on Return-to-Work Planning, Practices, and Policies Run time: 1 hour

Employers must plan in advance which measures they should take to facilitate social distancing practices in the workplace and keep their workers safe. This session will discuss your options and what physical changes may be required in the workplace and workspaces.

This session will also discuss the process of strategically reintroducing your employees back into the workplace—planning the who, when, and how of allowing your employees back into your offices or facilities and limiting the amount of employees in a building at any one time in the early stages of reopening. It will also look at how distancing in the workplace could impact your organization’s policies and practices, including hiring/interviewing practices, travel policies, and others. The session will also address telecommuting, which is certain to play a much larger role in this new workplace reality. Many employers will have employees with work-from-home arrangements for the first time—or have a much larger number of telecommuters than it did before—and will need to be aware of all policy considerations.

Run time: 1 hour
Health, Privacy, and Employer Liability Issues

This session includes employer best practices to slow or eliminate the spread of infection in the workplace, such as temperature checks, screening for symptoms, and/or testing for COVID-19. It will discuss weighing the health of your workers against ADA and health privacy concerns (HIPAA). For example, is it permissible for you to identify individuals who show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 to those with whom they work closely or have come into contact? How should supervisors be trained? Should they ask employees who call in sick if they are experiencing symptoms? Should they immediately send a coughing employee home? This session will discuss these types of sensitive and complex scenarios.

The session will also address an employer’s duty to keep its workers safe and address questions such as:

-Does workers’ compensation apply when an employee contracts COVID-19 from a coworker?

-Under what circumstances could an employer be at risk for potential negligence or wrongful death claims (of an employee or their family member)?

-What are the proper steps to show you are doing your due diligence?

Run time: 1 hour
Employee Rights and Protections

Aside from taking measures to keep their employees healthy and safe, most employers will be focused on getting operations up and running again. However, they must also ensure all employees are being treated fairly. This session will address scenarios that—if not handled properly—could violate employee rights and protections. Topics in this session will include:

-Antidiscrimination and antiretaliation concerns, including a review of any new antidiscrimination laws relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic

-Handling employees who refuse to return to work citing fear of COVID-19

-WARN issues (e.g., what if you have to close your facility again because someone tests positive?)

-Disparate treatment based on protected characteristics as to who will be screened and excluded

-Employee claims of religious exemption to health testing

This session will also address union and labor issues such as NLRA/concerted activity and employee rights to discuss workplace conditions related to health, and the potential increase of union activity due to employees not feeling protected or struggling financially.

Run time: 1 hour
Leave Issues Related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act: EFMLA & EPSL, FMLA, PSL

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) includes emergency paid family and medical (EFMLA) and sick leave provisions (EPSL) that will remain in effect through December 31, 2020. This session will address myriad leave issues employers will face in the coming months, such as:

-How to deal with the EFMLA and ESPL in regard to state sick and family leave laws and existing company policy

-Administering leave, including the paperwork, when you often won’t be in the same place as the employee

-How to either rewrite an existing policy or implement a temporary policy so that the company is in compliance with the EFMLA and EPSL

-Accurately tracking time/counting days

-Making sure supervisors are trained to correctly handle requests from employees that relate to these laws

Rune time: 1 hour
Wage-and-Hour and Benefits issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on employers in several ways, including measures such as employee furloughs, pay reductions, and work-hour reductions. As the workplace reopens, employers may find themselves dealing with myriad wage-and-hour considerations and challenges, beginning with determining whether they can return their workers to their pre-pandemic schedules and pay. Employers may also find themselves dealing with an increase in loan requests, pay deduction considerations given an increase in telecommuters, and even pay considerations for health screening time for nonexempt employees.

Moreover, in the wake of workplace shutdowns and furloughs, employers will have benefits issues to address, which we will also cover in this session. These issues include:

-Restarting benefits, such as health plans, 401(k)s, and dependent care accounts

-Restoring any salary deferral arrangements in payroll systems Processing election changes, especially if circumstances have changed (for example, an employee comes back at less than full-time)

-Navigating Affordable Care Act rules on “breaks in service,” waiting periods, and stability periods

-Coordinating with insurers and service providers to ensure that plan documents and related contracts are followed or amended correctly

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