Labor & Employment

FORCE MAJEURE AND CORONAVIRUS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Part 2: Possibility of Reduction in Workforce and Wage Bills

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed Force Majeure and Suspension/Termination of Contracts. You can contact newsletter@lexcounsel.in to get a copy of Part 1 of this series.

In this Part 2, we have attempted to answer some of the questions which businesses are asking concerning their ability to reduce workforce and wage bills.

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Paid Sick Time and Leave Amid COVID-19

As COVID-19 rapidly changes the economic landscape throughout the country, businesses and individuals are facing new and evolving challenges. To address these challenges, federal and state governments are quickly drafting laws and regulations that may affect employers of all sizes.

On March 18, 2020, the federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act), discussed in more detail below, which entitles some employees to paid sick time and leave for issues arising directly from the COVID-19 outbreak. On the same day, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that waives the usual one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits, allowing Massachusetts employees affected by COVID-19 to collect benefits immediately. In addition, the Department of Unemployment Assistance is finalizing emergency regulations to address a sudden increase in unemployment benefits claims because of COVID-19. Read more…

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President Trump Signs Family First Coronavirus Response Act into Law

On Wednesday, March 18, the Senate passed the house bill, as summarized in our alert, “Revisions to Proposed Family First Coronavirus Response Act: Potential Relief to Employers.”

Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump signed it into law. The Family First Coronavirus Response Act will become effective on April 2, (15 days from the President’s signature).

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The New York Department of Financial Services Requests Assurance From Regulated Financial Institutions and Insurance Carriers Regarding Their Preparedness to Respond to COVID-19 Crisis

On March 10, 2020, the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), which regulates a wide variety of financial institutions, including banks, insurance companies, and investment advisors doing business in New York, issued a series of letters regarding the response to the Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”).   In addition to providing guidance, DFS has asked all regulated financial institutions to provide “assurance” that they have plans to address the operational and financial risks associated with COVID-19.  A copy of the letter to regulated financial institutions can be found here, and here, a copy of the letter to regulated insurance entities can be found here; and a copy of the letter to regulated institutions engaged in cryptocurrency businesses can be found here.   The DFS has asked these institutions to provide reports regarding their plans “as soon as possible,” but no later than April 9, 2020.

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Employers Facing Layoffs Need to be Mindful of State Laws Regarding Final Pay

In the coming days, weeks and perhaps months, many employers will have difficult decisions to make about their operations and their workforces.  With their operations shutting down or running at less than capacity, many employers will decide that they must lay off employees.

It’s a decision that no employer wishes for or enjoys.  And it is one that poses some risks.

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CORONAVIRUS: DETAILFRAGEN ZUR KURZARBEIT

Kurzarbeit ist die vorübergehende Herabsetzung der Normalarbeitszeit und in der Folge des Arbeitsentgelts wegen wirtschaftlicher Schwierigkeiten. Kurzarbeit hat den Zweck, die Arbeitskosten temporär zu reduzieren und gleichzeitig die Beschäftigten zu halten.

Die „Corona-Kurzarbeit“ ist eine der aktuellen Situation angepasste Form der Kurzarbeit. Read more…

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The EEOC Issues Reminder and Guidance Regarding ADA and Rehabilitation Act Compliance During Pandemic

On March 17, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted an article on its website, “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19.”  The article confirms that workplace anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC remain applicable, but that nothing in those laws interferes with or prevents “employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.”

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Benefits Guidance in the time of COVID-19: Additional Cybersecurity Concerns as Employees “Work-From-Home”

As the United States and the rest of the world hunker down in their homes to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many organizations have implemented “working-from-home” procedures that are designed to protect the health of the employees.  Working-from-home, however, presents heightened threats to the cybersecurity of benefit plans, including the plan’s assets and employee data that is collected, transmitted, and stored with regard to employee benefit plans.  Plan sponsors and fiduciaries have asked about the particular risks that working-from-home might present to the protection of sensitive data and whether there are additional proactive measures they can take to reduce those risks.

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Benefits Guidance in the time of COVID-19: Monitoring Retirement Plan Investments and Participant Communications

The COVID-19 global pandemic has created a multitude of business and workforce challenges for employers.  In addition to addressing organizational issues, employers that sponsor employee benefit plans and plan fiduciaries must continue to manage and administer the benefit plans as well as address plan participant inquiries during these unprecedented and uncertain times.

One area where plan fiduciaries are seeking guidance concerns oversight of defined contribution plan investment options and any additional actions that they can take now with respect to monitoring such investments and providing communications to participants.  In light of these concerns, plan sponsors and fiduciaries may wish to consider taking the following actions:

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Practical Summary Frequent Covid-19 issues faced by employers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania

Most important restrictions currently applied by state (as of March 16, 2020):

Read more…

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