Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Coronavirus & Safety in the Workplace
Benefits Frequently Asked Questions
P&C Frequently Asked Questions
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (7)
The new Act requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave for some employees related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, among other measures.
The new Act will take effect on April 1, 2020.
If a company already offers paid time off or sick leave, does the employee have to use that prior to using the paid sick leave provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?
No, an employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the paid sick time under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. However, prior to the effective date of the act, employees should use their available PTO, vacation, or sick time. An employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave, as well as sick or family leave mandated by state and local government.
Employees can qualify for Emergency Sick Leave and/or Emergency Family and Medical Leave under this act.
Emergency Sick Leave must be made available to workers who are symptomatic or are under an order or advice to quarantine or self-isolate, who have to care for a family member under such an order or advice, or who have a child whose school or child care provider or facility has closed or is unavailable due to the coronavirus.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave must be made available when an employee is unable to work or telework due to school or child care closures related to the coronavirus.
The Employer will pay the leave benefits and then receive a credit against payroll taxes for each calendar quarter an amount equal to 100 percent of the qualified sick leave wages paid by the employer within that calendar quarter.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave on account of school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern; the Department of Labor is expected to publish regulations about this exemption in the future.
If an employee is out on one of the required leave benefits in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, is that employee eligible for health insurance benefits?
Yes, the employee is eligible for medical insurance while on Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family Medical Leave under this act.
In addition, the company would qualify for a credit for any amount paid or incurred by the employer to provide and maintain a group health plan, but only to the extent that such amounts are excluded from the gross income of the employees.
Coronavirus & Safety in the Workplace (5)
My company wants to implement and conduct COVID 19 Temperature Screening Procedures. Can I have someone on my team take the temperature of employees at the start of each shift using a digital forehead thermometer? We need a safety team member or qualified medical person to manage this process?
Only personnel trained in objective screening procedures can be designated to administer COVID-19 temperature screenings. Designated persons must be trained and understand the manufacturer’s instructions and limitations for the digital forehead thermometer.
In addition, it’s critically important for designated people to maintain consistency to the company’s screening procedures. Designated and trained people must understand that the screening process applies to all persons entering the workplace and not just employees. Employee health information must be maintained confidential and not included in personnel files.
To discuss this topic in more detail, contact:
Kenneth R. Fry, MS
We are sharing this answer directly from the Foley & Lardner LLP website located at:
“Under normal circumstances, no. However, now that COVID-19 has been declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization, the EEOC’s pandemic flu guidance may be used as a reference. The EEOC states that while measuring an employee’s body temperature is a “medical examination,” an employer may do so if the pandemic becomes widespread in the community according to state or local health authorities or the CDC. EEOC cautions employers to keep in mind, however, that not all infected employees will have a fever (in the flu context, at least, and is the current thinking about COVID-19 as well). Moreover, employers that decide to take employees’ temperatures should be sure they are not doing so in a discriminatory manner. Develop – and stick to – an objective procedure and/or protocol for taking temperatures. When we provided our Answer to FAQ No. 4, COVID-19 had not yet been declared a pandemic. So this Answer represents an updated response in light of more recent events.”
If I decide to take employees’ temperatures or other health screening procedures, does the person administering the screening need to be a medical professional?
Answer: We are sharing this answer directly from the Foley & Lardner LLP website located at:
“Not necessarily, but if you have a medical professional on staff or available at the worksite, then it is logical that person should be considered to administer screenings. If no medical professional is available, it is prudent to have one or a limited number of employees (ideally within HR or senior management) who are designated and trained to take temperatures so there is consistency to the process. Moreover, remember, employee health information is confidential and should be kept as such, and not be documented in employees’ personnel files.”
During a pandemic, may an ADA-covered employer take its employees’ temperatures to determine whether they have a fever?
Generally, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. If pandemic influenza symptoms become more severe than the seasonal flu or the H1N1 virus in the spring/summer of 2009, or if pandemic influenza becomes widespread in the community as assessed by state or local health authorities or the CDC, then employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with influenza, including the 2009 H1N1 virus or COVID-19, do not have a fever.
Because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions as of March 2020, employers may measure employees’ body temperature. As with all medical information, the fact that an employee had a fever or other symptoms would be subject to ADA confidentiality requirements.
https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/pandemic_flu.html (See Section III, SubSection B, Question #7)
What recommendations can you provide on how to create a proper ergonomic workspace to more effectively work from home?
One of our own KMRD experts created the simple list below. For more on how to create a proper ergonomic workplace for yourself at home, please read the following blog post:
“10 Easy Steps to Workstation Comfort”
- Adjust your chair height – your chair height and tilt should be adjusted so that your thighs are approximately parallel to the floor.
- Your feet should rest flat on the floor or on a footrest.
- Adjust your seat back – your lower back (lumbar area) plus mid-back should be well-supported. Adjust the seat back height, angle and tilt tension accordingly and sit back in your chair.
- Forearms should be parallel to the floor – adjust your keyboard tray or desk height accordingly.
- Your wrists should be straight and your hands in line with your forearms – adjust the height and position of the keyboard tray to keep wrists flat.
- Locate your mouse within easy reach – the mouse is to be placed on the keyboard tray (when possible) and within easy reach, no more than 3″ – 4″ from the keyboard.
- Keep elbows close to your sides – adjust chair arm rests so that you can rest the weight of your arms when you rest. Avoid hunching your shoulders forward.
- Adjust your monitor(s) for proper height and distance – the monitor should be at approximately an arm’s length (15″ – 30″) away. The upper edge of the monitor should be set at eye height so that you look slightly downward at the top two inches of the screen allowing your eyes to scan down the screen. Dual monitors should be located closely together and at the same height and distance so that your eyes do not have to re-focus and your head does not turn significantly when you look back and forth.
- Avoid screen glare – tilt your screen or reposition it. Do not position your monitor directly below lighting fixtures. Position your screen perpendicular to windows or other light sources. Use an anti-glare screen only as a last resort.
- Take breaks – take assigned work breaks to refresh and relax your body. Vary your posture throughout the day and try to arrange your work assignments to avoid prolonged seated posture. Take a brief walk and/or stand while taking a phone call. Getting up for at least one minute every 30 – 45 minutes is suggested. Periodically look away to the distance to relax the eyes.
Benefits Frequently Asked Questions (3)
If an individual is diagnosed with coronavirus, ADA services would evaluate medical information to determine disability under ADA or any state equivalent laws. Individuals who are quarantined without a diagnosis and not sick, generally, would not be considered disabled. The EEOC has published guidance for employers on specific workplace practices and inquiries related to COVID-19.
Is an individual who is quarantined but not sick or diagnosed with the coronavirus considered disabled?
No, disability carriers do not consider quarantined workers to be disabled. Unless they have a medical condition that meets the policy’s definition of disability.
An employee is considered disabled when they meet the definition of disability outlined in their policy. Your carrier would assess the claim to determine eligibility for benefits based on the terms of your policy, the same as the carrier would for any illness.
P&C Frequently Asked Questions (2)
Policies are frequently tailored to the needs of individual companies, meaning exclusions and limits vary. Therefore we suggest you speaking with your service team with any questions you may have. There are a few general points worth mentioning …Contagious disease coverage for business interruption (BI) is not commonly available since the SARS outbreak in 2003, which shares many similarities with the Wuhan virus outbreak. Even if coverage is available, there is usually a sublimit or restrictive terms. Most policies trigger coverage for BI only after a direct physical loss.
Again, every policy is worded differently and therefore it is imperative you discuss your specific situation with your team at KMRD. Also keep in mind, it is your obligation to ultimately prove a true loss of income which cannot be recovered in subsequent months. We will be your advocate but your carrier will make the ultimate decision on whether they believe coverage can be triggered.
For obvious reasons this is a fluid situation and there have been no specific rulings to date. Insurance carriers, third party administrators and risk managers must rely upon precedent, similar cases and relevant fact patterns to develop case management strategies, to address the issues as they arise, and to develop reasonable prevention strategies. In addition to “injuries,” Workers’ Compensation Acts provide compensation for “diseases” that are occupational in nature.
Specific diseases that have been associated with workplace exposures include Black Lung, Asbestosis and Hepatitis. Diseases not specifically enumerated by state law may also be covered if the industry’s exposure is substantially higher than the general population. This is why we do not typically see seasonal influenza workplace “injuries.” We strongly recommend reaching out to someone on your team to discuss your specific scenario.