Important Government Covid-19 Updates Affecting Employers
Interim Guidance from the CDC
On April 8, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued its Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (“Interim Guidance”). The Interim Guidance advises that Critical Infrastructure Workers may be permitted to continue to work following potential exposure to COVID-19 provided that the employee remains asymptomatic and takes additional precautions to protect themselves and the community. These additional precautions include:
- Pre-screening by the employer for symptoms and fever;
- Regular monitoring of symptoms;
- Wearing a face mask at all times for 14 days after last exposure;
- Social distancing by maintaining 6 feet apart from others as work duties permit; and
- Disinfecting and cleaning workspaces such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment.
Employers can issue face masks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages. If an employee becomes sick during the day, the employee should be sent home immediately and steps should be taken to identify those who had contact with the employee for two (2) days prior to the onset of symptoms. Anyone who was in contact with the employee during that two-day period would be considered potentially exposed and must comply with the additional precautions. For determining who is considered a Critical Infrastructure Worker, the CDC refers individuals to the Department of Homeland Security CISA website. We also encourage employers to review the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Additional Resources from the EEOC
The EEOC has published a pre-recorded webinar addressing twenty-two questions regarding the federal equal employment opportunity laws and the COVID-19 pandemic. These questions address various topics ranging from what an employer may tell other employees when a co-worker becomes sick with COVID-19 to whether an employer can require an older employee to remain home because of the employee’s age (the answer is no). A link to the webinar and transcript of the webinar can be found on the EEOC’s Coronavirus and COVID-19 website. The EEOC also reminds employers and employees to be mindful of instances of national origin and race-based harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace and to take action to prevent or correct this behavior.
FAQs for Governor DeSantis’ Stay-at-Home Order
On April 3, 2020, Governor DeSantis’ office published additional guidance on Executive Order 20-91, Essential Services and Activities during COVID-19 (commonly referred to as, Florida’s Stay-at-Home Order). After the Stay-at-Home Order was issued, there was significant confusion as to the implementation of the Order due to vague and conflicting language regarding senior citizens and those with significant medical conditions. The FAQs for Executive Order 20-19 clarify that senior citizens and individuals with significant medical conditions may leave their homes to go to work at an essential service and perform other essential activities, such as going to the grocery store. The FAQs also clarify the terms “essential services and activities”. For those living in Pinellas County, the most up-to-date guidance on definitions of essential versus non-essential businesses and other aspects of the “Safer at Home” orders can be found at the Pinellas County “Safer-at-Home” Guidance website.
Reemployment Assistance Websites
We know that many of you have questions concerning how and when employees and the self-employed can receive Reemployment Assistance. While many of the answers to these questions are still in flux, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (“Florida DEO”) released a new, mobile friendly online application for Reemployment Assistance which is accessible at www.FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication. The Florida DEO has also published a website with information for individuals and employers titled, Keeping Florida First COVID-19 Resources for Employers and Individuals. This website provides links to frequently asked questions on Reemployment Assistance for employees as well as the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Loan Advance Program and other loans for employers. Before applying for any loan, however, we encourage you to seek legal counsel to discuss the specific terms and conditions.
THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. LEGAL ADVICE CANNOT BE GIVEN WITHOUT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.