Work From Home: Important Legal Issues to Consider

Part 3 of 3

Cathy Divodi

Employers are attempting to abruptly navigate a multitude of new financial and logistical challenges associated with the health crisis while doing what they can to maintain their business. For those with limited or no prior experience with their employees working from home, there are a few important legal issues to be aware of to mitigate potential liability.

How do I handle continual changes in the law?

It’s not easy to stay compliant.

It is critical that there is effective continuity of all HR-related communications and compliance, especially at this time when there are daily changes in the law related to employees as efforts to address the health crisis continue at the Federal, State and County/City levels. For example, here is what employers are required to post:

Not only is the Federal paid sick leave and expanded FMLA paid leave brand new for employers, even the previous standard “posting” process of adding it to the employee bulletin board in the office lunchroom has to be re-visited. 

Wait, there’s more.

Using this new law as a continuing example of the challenges for employers’ HR departments, if an employee requests paid leave under the new FFCRA law, the employer has to determine if the employee qualifies for the paid sick leave or the paid expanded FMLA leave, or both and depending on the basis of the request, what they are allowed to request from the employee to establish the qualifying status. They also have to look at other relevant application of prior FMLA leave use by the employee, PTO policies for the individual employer, applicable State or Municipal paid leave rights, potential ADA/FEHA interactive process obligations, etc. 

The quickly evolving laws are intended to provide assistance to employees and employers, but both groups need to be informed about the various options and programs in order for them to be of benefit and also need to stay informed about how the actual benefits are being provided in real time and not just what the law says. Currently the law says employees that are furloughed have access to Federal unemployment benefits of up to $600.00/week in addition to the standard CA unemployment benefits and the employees can continue in “employed” status of the employer, which is good news for the employer and employee. However, CA EDD is advising potential applicants for the benefits that they can’t be processed for several more weeks “at minimum” because they are waiting for some additional direction from the Federal government on how to administer the benefits while also having to change their entire system to process the applications. EDD is requesting eligible workers to wait to file the applications for the benefits until they can be processed. 

Consistent communication is key.

Effective HR procedures now include access to information and consistent communication. To reduce stress levels or at least facilitate trust and commitment, HR departments should provide current information to employees about the legal benefit eligibility along with realistic information about how long it may take to access the benefits. 

Please contact any member of your G2 team with questions you have about your insurance program or regulations that apply to your specific state.

This email was created in collaboration with David Benton Nusz, Partner at Black and Rose Employment and Workers’ Compensation Defense, 18301 Von Karman Ave Ste. 300 Irvine CA 92612 / O: 949-435-4260 C: 714-313-3337

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