Tag Archives: Epstein Becker & Green

Employer-Sponsored Leave Sharing or Leave Donation Programs: Benefits Guidance in the Time of COVID-19

Many employers are looking for ways to assist employees directly impacted by COVID-19 and employees on temporary lay-off or furlough who are exhausting their available paid-time-off (PTO). One option employers often ask about is the feasibility of adopting a leave sharing or leave donation program that would permit employees to donate vacation, sick leave or PTO to employees who need the additional time because they have been impacted by COVID-19. Properly structured, leave donated to a co-worker is a viable option, which will not be taxable to the donor but rather taxable to the co-worker when the leave is actually taken.

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Connecticut Department of Labor Issues Guidance to Employers Facing COVID-19 Issues

The Connecticut Department of Labor issued guidance entitled “Frequently Asked Questions About Coronavirus (COVID-19) For Workers and Employers” (last updated on March 20, 2020 (the “Guidance”).  The Guidance provides no new legal requirements or amendments to existing laws, but instead, analyzes issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic under existing laws in the areas of unemployment insurance, paid sick leave, wage and hour law and the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (“CTFMLA”).

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Immigration Updates Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Department of State Suspends Routine Visa Services

On March 20, 2020, in response to significant worldwide challenges related to the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic, the Department of State announced that routine visa services will be temporarily suspended at all U.S. embassies and consulates. Further, embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments. Please note that services will continue to be available to U.S. citizens, and applicants with an urgent matter and need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided at the embassy’s website to request an emergency appointment. For more information, please visit the embassy website that applies to you.

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NJ Gov. Murphy Expands Business Closures, Requires Residents to Stay at Home, and Invalidates Conflicting County or Local Restrictions

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed two Executive Orders to bring state-wide consistency to the mandated restrictions and closures arising from the COVID pandemic. The first, Executive Order 107 (Order 107) requires all nonessential New Jersey private businesses and nonprofits to close to the public (with certain exceptions), details restrictions and guidelines for those that are not required to close, and requires residents to stay at home unless they are engaging in excepted conduct.  Order 107 supersedes and increases the prior restrictions set forth in Gov. Murphy’s March 16, 2020 Executive Order No. 104 (which among other actions, closed schools, some entertainment venues and put restrictions and limited hours on certain businesses).  The second, Executive Order 108 (“Order 108”) invalidates most county or local restrictions that conflict with Order 107.

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FDA Eases Device Modification Rules to Expand Availability of Ventilators During COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 22, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued guidance, for immediate implementation, that aims to increase the availability of ventilators and other respiratory devices needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  While FDA urges health care facilities to use, wherever possible, FDA-cleared standard full-featured ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients (as well as other patients requiring ventilatory support), FDA will allow a more flexible approach to modifications to these devices to help boost manufacturing capacity and supply.  FDA also took the opportunity to lay out guidelines that encourage submission of Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) applications for devices not marketed in the United States, continuing an unprecedented Agency response to the pandemic.

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FDA Confirms That At-Home Collection Kits Are Not Authorized for Use with COVID-19 Tests

On March 16, 2020, FDA finalized its guidance titled Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019 during the Public Health Emergency (the “Policy”). The Policy includes information and recommendations to assist laboratories and commercial manufacturers in development of diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) during the ongoing pandemic.

During the first week of implementation, questions arose regarding the extent to which the Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) pathway to market, as described by the Policy, covers at-home tests. The Policy specifically provides that it “does not apply to at home testing” (emphasis added). However, the industry still questioned the FDA’s stance on the use of at-home collection kits, allowing a consumer to self-collect a specimen and mail in a swab or similar collection device to a laboratory running an FDA-approved COVID-19 test.

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NLRB Postpones All Elections Indefinitely and Seriously Limits Other Agency Operations: The Status of NLRB Operations in the Face of COVID-19

The impact of the novel coronavirus has slammed employers across the globe, and federal agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) are no exception.  The Board announced Thursday the unprecedented step that it was suspending all representation elections, including mail ballot elections, for at least two (2) weeks until at least April 3rd.

Just days earlier, the Agency implemented a nationwide telework policy in both its headquarters and regional offices, encouraging employees of the agency to work from home.  While implementing the election freeze, the Agency highlighted that operations would be limited and open regional offices will maintain “minimal staff.”   In a press release, the Agency stated “given the closure of several regional offices and limited operations and significant telework at others, the Board does not believe that it is possible to effectively conduct elections at this time.”

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NY Gov. Cuomo Reduces to Zero the Number of Employees Allowed to Report to Work to Nonessential Businesses

In a news conference on March 20, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential New York State private businesses and nonprofits to reduce their workforce reporting to work by 100%  The announcement essentially amends Executive Order 202.6 (“Order”), issued by Gov. Cuomo on March 18, 2020, which required a 50% workforce reduction, by no later than March 20th at 8 p.m. (On March 19, 2020 Gov. Cuomo had announced a 75% required reduction, which has now been superseded).

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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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FDA Issues Temporary Guidance on Food Supplier Verification Audit Requirements

On March 17, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a Temporary Policy regarding preventive controls and food supplier verification audit requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This guidance explains the current intent of FDA to not enforce onsite audit requirements in certain circumstances related to the impact of COVID-19. Such onsite audit requirements can be found in three important food regulations:

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