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01 May

April 2020 Federal HR Updates

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Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

What happened?
The CDC issued additional guidance for critical infrastructure workers.

What are the details?
Employers should pre-screen staff before they come to work for a fever and/or any symptoms, encourage workers to self-monitor and report illnesses, wear a mask, maintain social distance, and disinfect/clean workspaces.

What do employers need to do?
Regularly review the CDC guidelines and implement safety measures as required.



Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

What happened?
OSHA released additional guidance related to COVID-19 in the workplace.

What are the details?
OSHA provided guidance on how to prepare workplaces for COVID-19, depending on their risk level, and provided a one-sheet to rate worker exposure risk to COVID-19.

  • Very High Risk – Healthcare workers and laboratory personnel with regular contact with COVID-19 positive patients.
  • High Risk – Healthcare delivery and support staff, medical transport workers, who may have contact with COVID-19 positive individuals.
  • Medium Risk – Frequent and/or close contact (within six feet) with individuals who are COVID-19 positive.
  • Low Risk – Workers who can maintain at least six feet distance from general public and minimal contact with public and other co-workers.

The guidance also includes details related to respiratory protection for healthcare workers and enforcement standards.

General practices for safety were also issued by OSHA:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and running water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

What do employers need to do?
Review the links below to ensure compliance with OSHA requirements.



Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

What happened?
The EEOC issued additional guidance for COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act, and other Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws.

What are the details?
These laws continue to apply during this crisis with the understanding that guidance from public health authorities may change as the pandemic evolves.

Americans with Disabilities Act and Confidentiality

  • An employer may ask employees if they are exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19 and take the employee’s temperature. These results may be logged and all documents must be filed in a confidential medical record.
  • Employers may currently take temperatures of employees without fear of violation of the law based on current CDC and state/local health authorities.
  • Employers may require employees with symptoms to stay home and require a doctor’s note before the employee can return to work.

Hiring and Onboarding

  • Applicants may be screened for COVID-19 (including asking questions and taking temperature) if it is consistently done for all applicants. Employer may also delay hiring of an employee due to COVID-19 symptoms or withdraw the offer.
  • Employer may not decide to withdraw or postpone the start date of an applicant due to the individual’s age or pregnancy.

Reasonable Accommodation

  • Employers are still required to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, but that accommodation may differ if the employee is telecommuting. Employers are required to follow the interactive process.
  • The current pandemic situation may change whether an accommodation produces an undue hardship on the employer and all requests should be reviewed thoroughly.


  • Anti-harassment laws still apply.

Furloughs and Layoffs

  • Special rules may apply if offering a severance package and waiver of discrimination claims against the employer.

Return to Work

  • COVID-19 provides a “direct threat” according to guidance from the CDC. As such, employers may screen employees before they return to work if it is completed for all staff, regardless of age, gender, race, or other protected class.
  • Some employees may need reasonable accommodations for Personal Protective Equipment.

What do employers need to do?
Maintain compliance with the laws and regulations and reach out to your HR provider with questions.



Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

What happened?
The Department of Labor and IRS released FAQs related to documentation requirements under the FFCRA. Documentation may be required to be reviewed by the federal government when leave is provided under the FFCRA. It is important for an employer to maintain documentation related to the applicable leave to ensure compliance with the regulations. 

What are the details?
An employee must provide the following information if requesting leave:

  1. Name
  2. Dates of leave
  3. Qualifying Reason
  4. Oral or written statement that employee is unable to work due to qualifying reason

Depending on the reason for the leave, additional documentation is required:

  • Employee subject to federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order: The name of the governmental entity that issued the order
  • Healthcare provider advised employee to self-quarantine: The name of the healthcare provider
  • Employee caring for individual who was told to self-quarantine or is subject to governmental quarantine order: Either name of the healthcare provider or name of governmental entity that issued the order
  • To care for a child: Name of the child, name of the school or place of care, representation that no other suitable person will be caring for child

What do employers need to do?
Ensure strict compliance is maintained with respect to the documentation requested and work with your HR provider should a need for leave arise.



CARES Act (SBA Loan)

What happened?
The Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funds and cannot accept any additional applications at this time.

What are the details?
The SBA posted this on their website: “The SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding.”

What do employers need to do?
Wait for Congress to take additional action – you may also contact your congressional representative to encourage action is taken.