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Employment Law Blog

What Are An Employer's Obligations Under the Families First Act?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) obligates certain employers to provide certain employees with sick leave and/or additional family and medical leave due to COVID-19. These new requirements apply to covered employers through Dec. 31, 2020.

These benefits are being reimbursed dollar-for-dollar by the federal government as refundable tax credits. Tax credits will be paid for all qualifying wages paid and amounts incurred to maintain health insurance coverage under the FFCRA.

Do I Still Need to Honor My Contracts in The Time Of COVID-19?

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If COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in your business' operations, you're not alone. Across the country, businesses have had to determine whether they can still perform under their pre-existing contracts, or whether there is some way to be freed from their obligations. 

My Hours Have Been Cut Drastically. Do I Qualify For Unemployment?

Unemployment insurance is a program that is run jointly by the states and federal government, so each state has varying rules. However, in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., you probably do qualify for unemployment insurance -- at least for partial benefits -- if your hours have been cut back or your workplace has closed down temporarily.

Many Workers Now Qualify For Paid Coronavirus Leave

Last week, the president signed a new coronavirus emergency relief package into law. That package mandates up to two weeks of paid leave for many workers who need to take time off due to COVID-19, if they are:

  • Ill with COVID-19
  • Quarantined
  • Seeking a COVID-19 diagnosis
  • Seeking preventative care for the virus
  • Caring for sick family members

Am I Essential? A Guide to Maryland's Latest COVID-19 Order

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Today, Governor Hogan issued an executive order closing all non-essential businesses in Maryland in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order, which goes into effect at 5pm today, explicitly states that it is not a Shelter-in-Place Order -- Maryland residents are still free to go outside. However, the Order does strongly encourage residents to stay indoors, and employers to promote teleworking as much as possible. The Order outlines 14 essential "federal critical infrastructure sectors" that are not required to close under the Order: 

Do Not Panic - You Have Protections During COVID-19

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Maryland provides employees with some protections. According to the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, employers may not decrease an employee's wages or change their regular paydays without giving the employee at least 1 full pay period's notice.

Employees in D.C. also have some protections. If you are fired in D.C., your employer is required to pay you your earned wages by the following work day. Likewise, employees in D.C. who resign are required to be paid their earned wages by the next regular payday, or within 7 days of their resignation, whichever is earlier.

Law Doesn't Require Employee's Requested Religious Accommodation

When an employee requests a religious accommodation to an employment policy, the law only requires the employer to offer a reasonable accommodation that protects the employee's religious interests. It does not require employers to provide the specific accommodation requested by the employee.

This principle was recently reaffirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Although this decision doesn't specifically cover Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., it appears to reflect a general consensus on the law and could be used as persuasive authority in our federal courts.

#FAIL: 5 Social Media Mistakes That May Get You Fired

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*adapted from "5 Cases of Employees Getting Canned Over Social Media" available at: https://sba.thehartford.com/managing-employees/employees-getting-canned-over-social-media/?cmp=EMC-SC-SBA-74456698&eml=1*

Social media in the workplace is a fact of business life. When it comes to getting the word out about your company, there is no substitute for marketing on social media-it's the fastest way to share information and generate buzz. Studies show that over 80% of employees believe social media improves their work relationships, and 60% believe it improves their decision-making processes. In fact, there is some research to suggest that employees who use social media outperform those who don't. But despite these advantages, there is an ugly side to social media that employees should avoid at all costs. Here are 5 common social media faux pas that can get you fired:

Are Accommodations Only Required For Work-Related Conditions?

No. If you have a disability, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires your employer to make a reasonable accommodation, as long as doing so would not create undue hardship for your employer. Undue hardship generally means significant difficulty or expense.

In the recent case of a nurse who could not work more than 12 hours in a row, the employer allegedly claimed that it would not offer accommodations unless the underlying condition were work-related. If such a policy were in place, it would almost certainly violate the ADA.

Updating Your Sick Time And Leave Policies For COVID-19

With the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 being reported in multiple states, it's time to think about how to handle instances of the illness in the workplace. As you do, keep in mind that your employees are likely entitled to take at least unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they or a family member gets seriously ill.

If you don't have a policy covering communicable diseases, now would be a good time to consider one. Should sick workers stay home? It might be wise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many people are contracting a milder form of COVID-19 and may not realize their illness is part of the epidemic. Consider telling your employees to stay home if they have any type of respiratory illness or signs of a fever.

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