Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

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.

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.