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Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

How Do I Pay Employees for COVID-19 Telework?

Even as stay-at-home and isolation orders are slowly lifted, employers will continue to have employees teleworking due to the COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic.

As a general rule:

  • Employees who are teleworking must record—and be compensated for—all hours actually worked, including overtime, in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”); BUT 
  • The Department of Labor’s continuous workday guidance generally presumes that all time between performance of the first and last principal activities in a day is compensable work time. See 29 C.F.R. § 790.6(a) (the “Continuous Workday Rule”).

The DOL, however, has determined that the Continuous Workday Rule is inconsistent with the objectives of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) and the CARES Act with respect to employees required to telework due to COVID-19, whether the telework is required to comply with social distancing, to care for a child whose school is closed or any other reason precipitated by COVID-19. 

According to the DOL, applying the Continuous Workday Rule to employees who are teleworking for COVID-19 related reasons would disincentivize and undermine the flexibility in teleworking arrangements that are critical to the FFCRA framework Congress created within the broader national response to COVID-19.

As a result, from now until December 31, 2020, an employer with less than 500 full and part-time employees is not required to count as hours worked all time between the first and last principal activity performed by an employee teleworking for COVID-19 related reasons. 

As explained by the DOL:

  • An employee may agree with an employer to perform telework for COVID-19 related reasons on an alternate schedule, such as: 7-9 a.m., 12:30-3 p.m., and 7-9 p.m. on weekdays. 
  • This allows an employee, for example, to help teach children whose school is closed or assist the employee's parents who are temporarily living with the family, reserving work times when there are fewer distractions. 
  • The employer must still compensate the employee for all hours actually worked—7.5 hours—that day, but not all 14 hours between the employee's first principal activity at 7 a.m. and last at 9 p.m. must be compensated (with certain break times excepted), as may be the case for other teleworking employees or non-teleworking employees.

Please take note that the DOL guidance does not supersede more restrictive state law continuous workday rules that may exist in states where you do business. If such rules exist in your state(s), they must still be followed absent similar action by your state(s).

For additional information, please contact Adam D. Fuller, adfuller@bmdllc.com or 330.374.6737, or any member of the L+E Team at BMD.

Lockdowns, Landlords, & Litigation: Abercrombie & Fitch Flips The Script on Simon Property Group Inc.

Novel litigation between commercial property owners and tenants arises from COVID-19 lockdowns. Typically, owners sue for nonpayment of rent. But in Franklin County, Ohio, a large retail tenant turned the tables and sued the owner to recoup payments.

UPDATE: Ohio Businesses Remain Required to Post Exceptions to State-Wide Mask Mandate at All Entrances

On August 1, 2020, Lance D. Himes, Interim Director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued an amended order continuing the requirement that Ohio businesses post at all entrances any permitted exceptions they provide to customers, patrons, visitors, contractors, vendors and similar individuals to use facial coverings.

2020 Marcum National Construction Survey Marks a New, Post-Pandemic Construction Environment

The results of the 2020 Marcum National Construction Survey are in, and the construction industry’s outlook for the remainder of 2020 and beginning of 2021 remains cautiously optimistic despite the COVID-19 global pandemic. Ability to find skilled labor, healthcare expenses, and material costs remain the top concerns for the industry, while “lack of future work” joins the list.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in the Wake of COVID-19

Several major “essential business” employers, including Walmart and Tyson, have been served with wrongful death lawsuits in relation to COVID-19. As many Ohio employees begin to return to work, employers should be prudent in following workplace safety practices.

We are Working in a Virtual, Video-Conferencing World – But What About Wiretapping?

Businesses and other organizations often have a need or desire to record telephone conversations related to their business interests and customer dealings; however, this practice is not always permissible as federal and state laws vary on this issue. Knowing and understanding your jurisdiction’s rules and regulations on this practice is essential to remaining in compliance with the law.