COVID-19 Employment and Claims Frequently Asked Questions for Employers
Virginia has instituted Coronavirus workplace guidance. What does this mean for us?
You need to review the rules. There are some minor rules you must put in place. If you have employees who come into unavoidable contact with other people, then you must do an assessment and develop a plan.
Are employers required to develop a written infectious disease preparedness and response plan?
Yes, if they have employees who will come into contact with other people that is more than incidental.
How do we keep employees who interact with clients safe?
It depends on the business. It may mean the use of face masks or PPE. It may mean social distancing and cleaning surfaces.
Should we cancel in person meetings or conferences?
Not necessarily. But, you need a plan for keeping people safe if they are in such meetings.
If an employee tests positive, do we need to shut our office down?
Maybe. You need to advise other employees who may have come into contact with the employee that they may have been exposed. If you have multiple employees with positive tests, you may need to shut down.
Can we require our employees to wear face masks?
Yes, unless they present documentation of a medical or religious reason justifying an exception.
We have an employee refusing to wear a face mask. Can we discipline or terminate?
Yes, unless they have documentation of a medical or religious objection to wearing the mask.
Should we revise our policies around international and domestic business travel?
Probably. Non-essential travel should be curtailed.
Can we require employees to disclose their personal travel destinations?
No. But you can mandate a quarantine for people who have been to “hot zones.” You may need to pay your employees on quarantine depending on the circumstances.
Pay and Vacation/Sick Leave
We have had financial difficulties this year. Can we suspend all employee accrued vacation/sick leave?
You can stop paid leave from accruing going forward. You cannot take away accrued leave.
We have a COVID-19 contraction at our company and sent employees home. Do we need to pay them for the time we are closed if they are not remote working?
No. Some employees may be entitled to semi-paid leave under the FFCRA.
COVID-19 Contraction and Medical Related Questions
Should we be screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms? What is the best way to do that?
You can do an oral questionnaire.
Can we take an employee’s temperature at work?
Can we send employees home who display COVID-19 like symptoms?
We have an employee who says they have COVID-19. Can we require employees to provide a doctor’s note or a positive test result?
Yes, but if they tell you they have COVID and you make them come into the office, you may be liable for everyone who catches COVID from them.
We have an employee who has tested positive. What are our legal obligations to other employees and our clients?
Tell those who may have been exposed about the potential exposure without giving the employee’s name.
We have an employee who has encountered someone who has tested positive. Can we require the person to take a COVID-19 test before returning to work?
It depends on the length of the “encounter” and whether they have symptoms.
ADA and Reasonable Accommodations
Would an employee who is afraid or anxious of contacting COVID-19 in the workplace be eligible an ADA claim for a reasonable accommodation?
Maybe, if they have medical documentation of a diagnosed medical condition, such as anxiety.
Can we deny a COVID-19 related ADA claim even if our employee is able to provide the necessary documentation from their doctors?
Yes, if the requested accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the employer.
FFCRA and FMLA
How and when do employers apply for the FFCRA tax credit?
After you pay out the leave, you apply for the credit through your tax return.
Are nonprofit organizations required to comply with the FFCRA?
Can an employee apply for FFCRA and FMLA at the same time? Do they need to exhaust all of their existing banked leave first?
Yes. They do not need to exhaust it, but the employer can require that paid sick leave run concurrent with FMLA leave. FFCRA leave is separated out, but not everyone is covered by this law.
If you have questions related to your employment and COVID-19, please call or text us to schedule a consultation.