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by Clare Morin
HR Trends

State and municipal legal considerations for COVID-19 return-to-work


Legal experts Ellen McCann and Daris Freeman break down state and municipal considerations when planning return-to-work amid the COVID-19 crisis. Many states are in the process of opening up for non-essential work and have issued some strict guidelines around how employers should go about bringing employees back. Certain cities and counties also have their own requirements. Be sure to do your homework – and check out the resources we link to below. 

Key takeaways

  • Make sure you’re up to date with all the government mandates or requirements. States have various laws that will govern how you bring employees back. And don’t stop just to look at the state; certain cities and counties have their own requirements. [01:38]
  • Keep other considerations in mind. For example, the Warn Act requires employers to give certain notices to employees who are going to be laid off. There are state versions, as well. These laws have been changed in the face of COVID-19. [03:18]
  • Look at changes in the Workers Comp arena for essential businesses. [04:28]
  • What are the wage and hour requirements that will apply to you as you bring employees back? Are you obligated under state law to pay for personal protective equipment? Are you obligated to pay employees to do health screenings at home or when they get to your worksite? Know the wage and hour implications. [04:59]
  • Several states and individual jurisdictions have passed leave laws specific to COVID-19. Many are in response to what happened at a federal level — for example, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose passed laws related to larger employers not subject to the new federal law. Some are specific to certain industries. [06:31]
  • Many of the states that have existing paid sick laws have issued guidance or amended existing laws — for unpaid leave as well as paid sick leave. That guidance provides additional leave that was not provided before. Employers need to look into these laws and know how they can be applied. [08:02]
  • Unum has state leave law updates on our website. Law firms are also putting up free summaries. Ellen McCann references the resources that the law firm Littler Mendelson has created for employers, viewable here. [09:41]

Daris Freeman
Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel, Unum 

As Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel for Unum, Ms. Freeman’s primary responsibility is to support Unum’s Absence Management Center, which administers FMLA, paid leave, ADA and over 200 complementary state laws. Ms. Freeman partners with the operation and their clients to develop compliant solutions for their unique absence management challenges. Most recently, Ms. Freeman’s time has been dedicated to the paid leave landscape, implementing solutions for customers and working with state agencies on development of their programs.

 More resources:
State Leave Laws Updates
Read more

Ep. 8: How does COVID-19 impact the ADA?
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Episode 11

by Clare Morin