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Back to Work: Employer Documents

The return of the workforce brings a renewed set of documentation requirements for employers, particularly those employers with fewer than 500 employees and any companies who received PPP funds. Back in March, employers needed a COVID-19 Leave Form and a Remote Work Policy, but things have changed. 

With the ever-increasing rules, orders, interpretations, employee questions, and customer expectations, it is imperative that businesses have the necessary documents in place. 

What are the necessary documents? Companies will want to have policies and forms in place to minimize the risk of liabilities and to best manage the workforce. Because of the uncertainties around the spread of COVID-19 and its testing and treatment, companies are more at risk for an extension of liability or a regulatory intervention. 

What do we specifically need? And why? Keeping in mind the volatility of the laws, rules, and regulations, the safest practice is a Back to Work set of forms and policies to include: 

  • Return to Work Notice and Form
    With furloughs, terminations, PPP loans, and expansive unemployment, employers must track which employees are refusing to return to work, as a best practice, and to extinguish any continuing obligation to the employees. Additionally, under PPP forgiveness exception rules, businesses must maintain a written record if an employee rejects a good faith return to work, the employee was fired for cause, the employee voluntarily resigned, or the employee voluntarily requested a reduction of hours. 
  • Waiver of Liability
    The state orders regarding workforce and workplace requirements can create additional duties owed to business invitees. A Waiver of Liability for customers, while not foolproof, will provide an important line of defense to frivolous lawsuits alleging COVID-19 exposure at your business. 
  • COVID-19 Testing Consent Form
    As an established precautionary measure, employers will want to engage in some testing or results review for their employees to prevent an outbreak in the workplace. For healthcare providers, this is a recommended best practice with respect to obtaining patient consent and informing patients of the risks associated with COVID-19 when seeking treatment. A Consent Form will set out the necessary parameters for testing by both employers and healthcare providers. 
  • Childcare Leave (Summer Vacation) Form
    Under the FFCRA, employees may be eligible for Emergency Paid Childcare Leave.  However, that leave is only applicable to school and care closures due to COVID-19. It does not apply to school closures due to Summer Vacations. During the summer months, employees will need to provide supplemental information regarding their requests for Childcare Leave. 

  • Workplace Policy on COVID-19 Safety and PPE
    A top question we receive from employers is “What do we do if an employee refuses to wear a mask, wash hands, keep distance, etc.?” The Workplace Policy will address the mandatory requirements and the potential for disciplinary actions.

  •  OSHA Standards Policy
    More and more groups are calling on OSHA to implement COVID-19 safety standards beyond the General Duty Clause. As OSHA introduces federal requirements, employers must be able to implement and adapt through an OSHA Standards Policy. 
  • Internal COVID-19 Reporting Form
    When two or more employees raise a concern about workplace safety, they are arguably engaging in a “protected concerted activity” protected by the NLRA. The number of retaliation, whistleblower, and public policy claims are on the rise. It is prudent and imperative for employers to have reporting policies and procedures in place, document and investigate any COVID-19 concerns of the employees and prevent retaliation to avoid the potential claims. 
  • Away from Workplace COVID-19 Policy
    This is another major concern for employers. Even if employees are monitored at work, what can stop them from engaging in risky behaviors away from work? An off-duty conduct policy isn’t fail-safe, but it will help set expectations for employees’ actions away from work that may affect the workplace. If employees travel to hot-spot areas, or party with large groups of people, that creates risk for the employer and coworkers, and this Policy announces the employer’s right to restrict the employee from returning to work until safe from exposure.

If you need assistance with any or all of these recommended Back to Work Policies and Forms, please contact Jeffrey C. Miller at 216.658.2323 or jcmiller@bmdllc.com or Amanda L. Waesch at 330.253.9185 or alwaesch@bmdllc.com or your attorneys with Brennan Manna & Diamond. A Back to Work package will be offered to existing L+E Advisory and Healthcare Advisory clients.

Top 10 Signs that May Indicate Financial Distress

The business world has been turned upside down with COVID-19 and the financial disruption it has created. Once healthy businesses are taking protective measures to remain viable. The impact of this health and financial crisis has affected nearly all industries in some manner. Being aware of areas or issues where your company is vulnerable is critically important. We have identified ten signs to look for when evaluating whether your company has some degree of financial distress.

HHS Delays Quarterly Reporting for Provider Relief Funds

There is good news for providers that received either (1) General Distributions from the HHS Provider Relief Funds [link to my article], or (2) Targeted Distributions from the HHS Provider Relief Funds [link to Ashley’s article]. HHS reversed its stance requiring quarterly reports for providers that received Provider Relief Funds and PPP loan monies. The initial quarterly reports would have been due by July 10, 2020. However, on June 13, 2020, HHS delayed the quarterly reporting requirement.

July 20 is Important Deadline for HHS Fund Distributions to Medicaid and CHIP Providers

On June 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released details on the distribution of more CARES Act Provider Relief Fund payments. After allocating $50 billion to Medicare providers through its General Distribution fund, HHS has now announced that it will distribute $15 billion to eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers who apply by the deadline through a Targeted Distribution. Applicants must apply through the Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal. The application form itself can be found on the HHS website and is due by July 20, 2020.

DOJ Updates Corporate Compliance Plan Guidance

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, all healthcare providers were required to adopt and implement a corporate compliance plan. Historically, having an effective corporate compliance plan in place has been key to defending healthcare providers in fraud and abuse actions by Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial payers. Over the past couple of years, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Division has increased the number of prosecutions against U.S. corporations, including healthcare providers. Earlier this month, the DOJ’s Criminal Division updated its “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” guidance to educate prosecutors on how a corporate compliance program will be evaluated going forward.

IRS Responds - Economic Impact Payments Do Not Belong to Nursing Homes or Care Facilities

In response to the concerns that some nursing homes and care facilities have been taking patients economic impact payments (“EIP”) and claiming the EIP belongs to the facility, the IRS issued a reminder that the EIP does not belong to a nursing home or care facility even if that facility receives the individual’s payments, either directly or indirectly. The EIP does not count as income or a resource in determining an individual’s eligibility for Medicaid or other federal programs for a period of 12 months from when the EIP is received. What this means: an individual’s EIP does not have to be turned over by the benefit recipient.