Bulletin on Employee Benefits and Retention
We are getting many calls from members who are caught between their contractual and scheduling obligations on current projects and the increasing challenges and concerns of employees to continue working. To make matters more complicated, we are all trying to understand the elements of Ohio’s new unemployment regulations as well as the medical leave and paid sick leave provisions in the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In addition, the CARES Act will provide financial assistance to employees and employers and we coming to understand more details about this daily.
As you try to balance these difficult factors for your company and your people, we have tried to pull together the key facts in this document with links to more information throughout. Finally, we have provided a model letter that you may choose to use with your employees.
As always, please feel free to reach out to the association or to legal counsel for help with your particular circumstances. Our thanks go out to Amy Mitchell at Auman Mahan & Furry for her assistance in creating the summary below.
Ohio Unemployment Benefits:
The critical link for employers AND employees is: http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/CoronavirusAndUI.stm
This website is constantly updated and has the appropriate forms as well as a great frequently asked questions section. Here are the basics:
Reasons for Layoff
- Project Shutdown
A contractor may have to close a project down if they cannot comply with the safety elements of Stay at Home Order. Employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they have a loss of work due to COVID-19 related business shutdown.
- Reduction in Work
Employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits in cases where work hours are reduced as well as in cases of a layoff for lack of work. Contractors may also want to inquire about the SharedWork program: http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/SharedWorkOhio/index.stm to keep their employees working reduced hours and receiving unemployment benefits.
- Health Professional’s Order for Isolation/Quarantine
Employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they are requested by a medical professional to be isolated or quarantined.
- Employer Mandated Isolation/Quarantine
An Employer may request an employee to not go to work in order to quarantine or isolate as a consequence of COVD-19. Employees that are requested to stay home may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Employees are generally not eligible for benefits if they just choose to quit coming to work, self-quarantine or voluntarily stay home to care for a family member due to COVID-19 related concerns, without a request from a medical professional or the employer.
Waived requirement for actively seeking employment
The new law waives the requirement that unemployment recipients continue to actively seek work if they are eligible for benefits for the above stated COVID-19 business related reasons.
E-PSL/E-FMLA via the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- Act begins 4/1
- E-PSL (Emergency Paid Sick Leave) 2 weeks/up to 80 hours
- Eligibility with
- Government Quarantine or Isolation Order
- Health care professional directed self-quarantine
- Experience symptoms and seeking COVID-19 medical diagnosis
- Caring for an individual advised to quarantine by government or health care provider
- Child care responsibilities due to K-12 or daycare school closures
- HHS specified reason
- Up to $511/day or $5110 total for reasons 1-3 listed above
- 2/3 of regular pay with a $200/day cap or $2000 total for reasons 4-6 above
- E-FMLA (Emergency Family Medical Leave), 12 weeks (first 10 un-paid/can be overlayed with E-PSL
- Eligibility only for child care responsibilities related to K-12 or daycare closures resulting from a public health emergency
- 2/3 of rate with $200/day cap and $10,000 total
- must maintain H&W contribution
- Waivers may be available to paid leave provisions for employers with less than 50 employees
Example Employee Letter
We are experiencing extraordinary times. We are being asked to continue to do extraordinary things to build our community as essential businesses in our State. At a time when so many are losing their jobs and face an uncertain economic future, we are fortunate as an industry to be able to continue to perform our work. That being said, your safety and health are paramount to this firm and we will continue to work with you in the field and in the shop to maintain safe distances, to prevent the sharing of tools and equipment, and provide the things you need to keep yourself and your area clean. In return, we would ask you to check your temperature each day and not to come in to work if you have a temperature of 100.4 or more or are feeling ill. Please let us know if you or a member of your family do test positive for COVID-19. We are committed to seeing that you have the flexibility to care for yourself and your family. Hopefully that day will not come for you, or for any of us, and we can continue meeting our daily obligations to our projects and to our industry. We appreciate all that you are doing to work through this crisis with us and we are here to support you in your efforts to maintain your physical and financial wellness.