Labor & Employment

HR BRIEF: HOW WILL THE FURLOUGH SCHEME CHANGE FROM 1ST JULY 2020?

Further to the recently announced changes to the furlough scheme (see our blog on this), detailed guidance has now been published by the government. In this briefing, we look at some key questions relating to the changes.

WHICH EMPLOYEES ARE ELIGIBLE?

The general eligibility requirements as were already in place have not been changed. Read more…

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The Latest COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Illinois and Chicago Employers

Last week, Illinois moved in to “Phase 4” of the state’s five-stage Restore Illinois Plan (the “Plan”). As part of this transition, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity issued updated, industry-specific Phase 4 Guidelines (the “Guidelines”).

From an employer compliance standpoint, the transition from Phase 3 to 4 is not a radical change. Rather, the transition primarily involves loosened restrictions for already open businesses, and the reopening of additional industries (such as indoor recreation facilities like bowling alleys and skating rinks). Social distancing and other guidelines introduced in Phase 3 remain in effect. For an in-depth review of these guidelines, please see our advisory on Illinois and Chicago’s Phase 3 Reopening Guidance.

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Video: Health Care Employers Face Reopening Challenges – Employment Law This Week

Featured in #WorkforceWednesday: Attorney Denise Dadika examines the unique challenges health care employers face as they ramp business back up and reopen for both patients and employees.

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Video: Employers Brace for Surge in Union Activity – Employment Law This Week

Featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  As businesses across the United States open up, workers may increasingly turn to unions to help support their safety. Employers should take steps to properly prepare for this resurgence in union activity. Attorney RyAnn Hooper explains more.

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ILN: Unprecedented Aid During the COVID-19 Crisis

The ILN’s Labor & Employment Group has put together a summary document, addressing the question, “In the UK the government has stepped in with unprecedented aid such as paying 80% of employees’ salaries who are at home and not working up to £2500 per month. There are also a raft of other financial measures. What measures have been enacted in your jurisdictions, and what are the impacts?” Click the guide below to see responses from 11 jurisdictions.

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Texas Local Governments Impose New Face Covering and Health and Safety Plan Requirements Upon Employers, As COVID-19 Cases Surge

For the last two weeks, Texas is continuing to break records for daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.  According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, on June 23, 2020 Texas had the highest daily number of COVID-19 cases (5,489) since the pandemic began, and for twelve consecutive days had record-high hospitalizations.  Also on Wednesday, June 23rd, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said 97% of the intensive care unit beds in Houston are filled. Governor Abbott acknowledged this week that there is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas, and announced that his office is examining greater localized restrictions.  Since June 3, Texas has been in Phase III of reopening, whereby all businesses in Texas are permitted to operate at up to 50% capacity, with very limited exceptions, and since June 12, 2020, restaurants have been permitted to expand their occupancy levels to 75%.

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Addressing Data Privacy and Security Provisions in COVID-19 Related Service Provider Agreements and Beyond

Employers’ engagement and use of various types of vendors has expanded recently, to include vendors who assist with office re-entry screening and contact tracing as employees return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The service agreements that are negotiated and executed for this purpose should sufficiently address data privacy and security considerations related to employee personally identifiable information (PII). This is necessary for any service provider or vendor agreement.   In the absence of a federal law governing data security and breach notification of employee PII, employers must comply with increasing state and local legal requirements to ensure the protection of employee PII which employers obtain in the normal course of employment.  Many states have breach reporting laws that apply to data held by employers, such as employee social security numbers.  Other states, such as New York, have laws encompassing PII breach reporting and mandating certain data protections.  For example, the New York Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act (“Shield Act”) requires employers to implement a cybersecurity program providing protective measures for New York resident-employees’ PII.

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UK Update: What Employers Need to Know About the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

As we previously reported, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many employers and employees throughout Europe. Since mid-March 2020, the Government of the United Kingdom has implemented several measures and guidance to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to other European jurisdictions, one such measure is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”), designed to help employers retain their workforce. Currently, the CJRS provides partial subsidized wages to approximately 7.5 million UK employees across 935,000 employers. Recently, the UK has provided updates to the CJRS, including an extension of partial wage replacement grants and a shift toward allowing part-time work.

In late March 2020, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the implementation of the CJRS. Under the CJRS, all UK employers with Pay As You Earn (“PAYE”) payroll schemes that were opened and in use on or before February 28, 2020 may apply for wage replacement grants to distribute to their furloughed employees. The CJRS recently has been extended to October 31, 2020.

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California Court of Appeal Concludes That Unionized Employees and Their Employers Cannot Negotiate Away Compensation for Required Travel Time

Faced with the question of whether unionized employees and their employer can bargain away the right to be compensated for employer-mandated travel time, a California Court of Appeal has ruled that they in fact may not do so.  In Carlos Gutierrez v. Brand Energy Services of California, Inc., the Court concluded that Wage Order 16 (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11160) requires that employees be paid for all employer-mandated travel time — and that it cannot be negotiated away by a union and the employer.

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Production Industry Recommends Guidelines for Returning to Work

The entertainment industry took a major step forward amid the COVID-19 pandemic when the California Department of Public Health approved the resumption of entertainment content production beginning on June 12, 2020. The back-to-work announcement is based upon the guidelines submitted two weeks ago by a massive working group of entertainment industry interests, known as the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force (Task Force), on how to safely return to physical production. Read more…

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