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Essential Businesses in Ohio: Today’s Announcements Apply to You

Governor DeWine announced the “Responsible Restart Ohio” program this afternoon to set the stage for reopening certain areas of the Ohio economy. Matt Heinle and Jeff Miller posted on the overall requirements today. While the announcement and our post focused on reopening certain businesses, the mandatory requirements and recommendations apply to ALL businesses, including those which had been open and operating as an Essential Business.  

What am I required to do?

Governor DeWine published five protocols for all businesses:

  1. No mask, no work, no service, no exception. Require face coverings for employees and clients/customers at all times. Face coverings include surgical-type masks as well as cloth masks, handkerchiefs, scarves, etc. These masks can be provided by the employee or the employer.
  2. Conduct daily health assessments by employers and employees (self-evaluation) to determine if “fit for duty.” Remember not to record individual temperatures, just whether the health assessments have been conducted.
  3. Maintain good hygiene at all times – hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing. These are similar requirements to what was already in place under the original Stay at Home Order.
  4. Clean and sanitize workplaces throughout workday and at the close of business or between shifts.
  5. Limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines. Maximum capacity should be 50% of fire code. Also, use appointment setting and staggered shifts where possible to limit congestion.  

When am I required to do these?

There is no reason to delay implementation, but today’s announcements give you time to get into compliance. 

 What do I do if an employee or customer tests positive?

The requirements are much more stringent than a positive test. If there is even a suspected case or exposure, employer must contact the Local Health District.  The other obligations are in the links above. 

Where can I get more help understanding how to operate and address employee concerns?

Contact the BMD Labor and Employment team. Right now, a business is most likely to get into trouble when its employees feel unsafe and report their employer to the public health department. Additionally, the sanitization and safety measures may create wage and hour concerns. We can help you develop your plan to reopen to ensure your employees and customers feel safe returning to your workplace. 

For more information, contact Jeffrey C. Miller at 216.658.2323 or jcmiller@bmdllc.com or Ashley B. Watson at 614.246.7518 or abwatson@bmdllc.com.

HHS Announces an Additional $20 Billion In Provider Relief Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an additional $20 billion in new funding for providers on October 1, 2020. Eligible providers include those that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments as well as previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2% of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.