As the pandemic complicates life, it has certainly complicated workplace rights and compliance for employers. Workers are suddenly in need of completely new protections for completely new circumstances that have been created by the pandemic. Safety at work, sick time, and time to take care of family members who are sick (or not at school, daycare, etc.) have quickly become major issues.
Two Laws that Protect Workplace Rights in COVID-19
Two laws in particular have given extra rights to employees that apply to a COVID-19 world: the FFCRA and the ADA. Any HR and payroll company would say that the FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act), boiled down to its core, is about providing leave to employees in two kinds of circumstances: when they themselves are sick, and when a child or family member needs care. The FFCRA defines who is entitled to take this kind of leave to take care of themselves and/or others. The Act also defines how long leave can be taken, what the employee should be paid, and how the company should document it. Lastly, the FFCRA indicates that when companies give leave for employees, they will receive a tax credit later.
The second law that should be important to any company’s human resource strategy right now is the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA has been extended to cover a few situations right now: when employees need accommodations to work safely in a COVID-19 world, and when mask-at-work policies make life harder for employees with breathing issues. These issues can be complicated, so if companies are not using HR consulting, they run very real risks of violating employees’ rights—if not reduced morale or even lawsuits.
A New Tool to Protect Workplace Rights
Enter into this equation the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (or WHD). In an effort to help protect workers through the coronavirus crisis, the WHD announced on Monday, July 13th, that they had launched a public awareness campaign with support and resources to ensure that employee rights are respected.
The WHD will be making public service announcements on the radio, television, and social media in both English and Spanish. They’ll be providing informational resources about the FFCRA, as well as workplace rights in agriculture. The resources will include short videos and digital guides, all done in plain language (to be accessible to a wider range of workers) about the HR services workers should expect right now. Employees will be able to find digital resources at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd or call their toll-free helpline at 1-866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).
With this campaign from the WHD, employers should consider taking stock of their people strategy, especially with influence from the FFCRA and ADA. To protect their staff and themselves, they may want to consider hiring an HR service like MP to help them be in airtight compliance with all the new laws.
Want to dive deeper into the FFCRA? Check out our webinar here.
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