Additional COVID-19 Guidance From Department of Labor (DOL)

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On April 10, 2020, the DOL issued additional COVID-19 guidance on case reporting and unemployment compensation.  Please see below a summary of the DOL’s new guidance. 

Guidance for Recording Cases of COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim guidance for enforcing OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19.

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if the case:

– Is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness;

– Is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and

– Involves one or more of the general recording criteriain 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.

In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where:

(1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and

(2) The evidence was reasonably available to the employer.

Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR Part 1904. 

Guidance Regarding Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) released an Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 17-20, which provides further guidance to states as they implement the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.

Under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, states can provide up to 13 weeks of federally funded benefits to qualified individuals who:

– Have exhausted all rights to regular compensation under state law or Federal law with respect to a benefit year that ended on or after July 1, 2019;

– Have no rights to regular compensation with respect to a week under any other state UC law or Federal UC law, or to compensation under any other Federal law;

– Are not receiving compensation with respect to a week under the UC law of Canada; and

– Are able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work, although states must offer flexibility on “actively seeking work” where there are COVID-19 impacts and constraints.

– The cost of PEUC benefits is 100% federally funded. States may not charge employers for any PEUC benefits paid. Implementation costs and ongoing administrative costs are also 100% federally funded.

– In addition to the PEUC program, ETA has also provided guidance to the states regarding two additional CARES Act unemployment programs.

Under Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC),states will administer an additional $600 weekly payment to certain eligible individuals who are receiving other benefits. The guidance makes clear that:

o   If an individual is eligible to receive at least $1 (one dollar) of qualifying state unemployment benefits, the individual will receive the full $600 weekly payment under this program. 

o   Child support obligations may be deducted from the FPUC payments.

o   The FPUC payments are taxable income.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)program assists individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to continue working as a result of the coronavirus, including self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers. PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to qualifying individuals who are able to work and available for work but are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the following COVID-19 related reasons:

o   The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

o   A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;

o   The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;

o   A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;

o   The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;

o   The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;

o   The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;

o   The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;

o   The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; or

o   The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

As always, please contact us at Underwood Law Firm with any questions or concerns. 

 

 

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