Each day brings new insights and challenges while employers navigate the Coronavirus pandemic. Discover further best practices and answers to frequently asked questions related to employee management during this unprecedented time below.
Be sure to check out additional real-time guidelines in response to COVID-19 here.
Beyond standard sanitization practices
- Use booking and scheduling to stagger customer flow and protect employees
- Use online ordering and touch-free transactions where possible
- Remove tables, chairs, display cases and signs to reduce capacity and create distance
- Provide disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer at the door
Can we take temperatures or ask about health daily?
You can, but take into consideration the effect that will have on your customers and employees before implementing.
Illness and quarantine
Be clear with employees: if they have cold or flu-like symptoms, request that they alert their team lead, stay home, and seek medical guidance. If employees have a fever, they should not come to work until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
Can we require a note for them to return after sick leave?
Yes, but the CDC asks that you don't.
Can we ask about symptoms if employees are out sick and we don’t know why?
Yes, but keep questioning specific to COVID-19.
Can we make an employee with a sick family member stay home?
Yes, if the family member is showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Employees don’t want to come in. Can we make them?
Yes, as long as there is no legitimate threat and they don’t require an accommodation.
Employees with an nth degree separation
In most workplace settings, the CDC does not currently recommend special scrutiny for people exposed to asymptomatic people with potential exposures to COVID-19. (That probably describes half the country right now.) There are, and will be more, settings and locations where the CDC will recommend monitoring all employees.
If you decide to send someone home anyway, we recommend that you pay them for the time and not take it from their sick leave or PTO bank. Risks if they can’t work from home and you don’t pay them:
- Very unlikely - a "regarded as disabled" ADA claim
- Reasonably likely - stewing on how to get you back with a discrimination or wage and hour claim
For cannabis employees that have the ability to perform their duties from home, consider these policies:
- Hours of work
- Expectations regarding reachability
- Expectations regarding productivity
- Regular check-ins
- Office expenses
Reminders about pay
- Must be paid for all hours worked, even at home.
- If you send them home before their shift is complete, you may owe reporting time pay, even if they are symptomatic
- No partial day deductions ever. You can fill in with paid time off.
- If they do any work (including at home) during a workweek, they are entitled to their full weekly salary.
- Exception: full day deductions may be taken if they take time for personal reasons.
- Exception: full day deductions may be taken if they are actually sick, do no work, and you offer a bona fide sick leave plan.
Reducing hours or closing
Reducing hours or pay for non-exempt employees
Non-exempt employees only need to be paid for hours worked. Remember reporting time pay if you send people home after they’ve already arrived at work for the day. A reduction in hourly wage may require a certain amount of notice under state law and cannot be retroactive if you are mid pay-period.
Reducing pay for exempt employees
You can implement a pay cut, either for everyone or for certain departments or types of jobs. Check for unintentional discrimination. Employees must remain above the federal minimum salary for exempt employees ($684/week) or the higher state minimum. No prorating!
Reclassifying exempt employees as non-exempt
- This is legal unless done to avoid the salary basis requirements under the FLSA.
- Don’t do this on a very short-term basis (e.g., three weeks or less).
- Ensure state notice requirements are met and that it isn’t applied retroactively if you’re halfway through a pay period.
Furlough v. temporary or permanent layoff
Temporary reduction in hours of work or weeks of work. This could be, “we only need you 10 hours this week” or, “we’re closing for two weeks, see you all soon.” Probably involves an estimated date of reopening.
- Must communicate in writing.
- Share option for use of paid leave, including those that might be outside your regular policy.
- Address health insurance benefits and premiums and any other benefits that may be affected, such as stipends.
- Employees will be eligible for unemployment insurance and many states are waiving waiting weeks.
A layoff with the intention of rehire, generally within six months. (WARN notice does not apply if six months or less.)
A layoff with no anticipated rehire date.
What if we can't make payroll?
Call an attorney to determine the best course of action under your circumstances in your state.
Wurk understands this is a difficult time. If your team would like HR or Payroll support from industry experts, please contact us today.