COVID-19: It’s LATAM’s Turn

As COVID-19 begins to spread in Latin America, we have seen countries begin to adopt measures to protect their citizens and residents. Some countries have been on lock down since last month, requiring all but essential workers to stay in place (e.g., Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru and Venezuela). Last week, Mexico canceled all non-essential activities and urged its citizens “Quédate en Casa” (Stay at Home). Other countries have extensive curfews (e.g., Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay). READ MORE

Optimizing the “Pause” and Preparing for Life After the COVID-19 Crisis

While most of the world is triaging around stricter COVID-19-related restrictions and lockdowns, some countries are already starting to take steps to return to a new normal – one where business continues even as outbreaks may flare up. With plenty of lessons to learn and a cadre of non-essential personnel looking for productive activity, employers who can do so are advised to take advantage of the “pause” in regular activity to sure up for the “post” COVID-19 realities. Below are some suggested areas of focus: READ MORE

New York COVID-19 Developments: NYS DOL Encourages Workers to File a Complaint Online

The New York State Department of Labor (“NYS DOL”) has launched a new webpage dedicated to alerting workers regarding COVID-19 related employment protections and allowing  them to submit  a complaint online by simply clicking the “File a Complaint” link. The new webpage encourages workers to file a complaint with the NYS DOL if their employers violate any provisions of the state’s new law providing sick leave, paid family leave and disability benefits to employees impacted by mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, including any violations of Governor Cuomo’s recent Executive Order mandating all non-essential workers to stay home. These violations include being forced to perform work at an employer’s worksite if the employer is a non-essential business or being threatened if an employee does not work at a place other than the employee’s home. It should be noted that the NYS DOL appears to be creating the right to file a complaint on a number of issues that are not explicitly addressed within the legislation or guidance regarding the legislation and it remains to be seen whether the NYS DOL has authority to pursue alleged violations of the legislation for the reasons described below. READ MORE

Reducing Salary Costs Across the Globe – An Overview of COVID-19-Related Work Hour Reduction and Furlough Schemes

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to intensify and disrupt business across the globe, many international companies are facing the harsh reality of resorting to severe cost-saving measures to protect their financial health. One of the major points for consideration is whether multinational companies may reduce the working hours and/or pay of their international workforce. READ MORE

COVID-19 UK: Employment – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: further clarification – Update

Following our update last week around the guidance from the UK Government on the announced Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, further clarification on some (but not all) of the grey areas has now been provided. We have set out below some of the main points of clarification. READ MORE

COVID-19 Update: Germany to Give Working Parents State-Funded Compensation Claim During Closure of Childcare and Schools

Deutsch: COVID-19-Krise: FAQ zum neuen Entschädigungsanspruch für berufstätige Eltern nach § 56 Abs. 1a IfSchG

For working parents who are unable to fulfil their working duties due to the closure of kindergarten, day care centre and/or school as a result of the pandemic, the German parliament has passed a new law in a fast-track procedure. The essential aspect under this legislative change is that under certain conditions, affected parents are granted a state-funded compensation claim under the German Infection Protection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz – IfSchG), which is legally distinct from the contractual remuneration claim. READ MORE

Responding to Healthcare Employee Concerns in the COVID-19 Age

As the battle against COVID-19 intensifies, healthcare workers have become vocal about their perceptions of deficiencies surrounding patient care and safety within their workplaces and have expressed their views publicly on social media and other platforms. Videos, photographs, and testimonials underscore employees’ concerns about patient care and the availability of protective gear and other supplies. Healthcare employers have, at the same time, struggled to regulate the flow of information and misinformation about COVID-19 in their facilities. In some cases, healthcare employers have prohibited employees from speaking to the media without express authorization under new or existing policies. READ MORE

FFCRA Guidance from the IRS: How To Secure Tax Credits for COVID-19 Leave Payments

On March 31, 2020, the IRS issued “COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs” to help small and midsize employers navigate the tax relief available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). READ MORE

COVID-19 Update: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Emeryville Take Local Legislative Measures

In the wake of coronavirus and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, California cities are taking their own measures. San Francisco launched the Workers and Families First Program to reimburse employers for providing extra sick leave beyond their existing policies. The City Council of Los Angeles approved a supplemental paid sick leave ordinance, which the mayor is expected to sign. And Emeryville issued guidance on the permissible coronavirus-related uses for sick leave under its local paid sick leave ordinance. READ MORE

Six Bay Area Counties Issue Revised Shelter-In-Place Orders Requiring Essential Businesses to Develop and Post Social Distancing Protocols

On March 31, 2020, the six Bay Area counties that previously issued the nation’s first Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders, amended and extended their prior orders to include stricter controls aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The new orders, which are now in effect in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties (as well as the City of Berkeley) have a new end date of May 3, 2020 – a change from the prior end date of April 7, 2020. They also revise and narrow the scope of businesses deemed essential, and expressly require any employer with employees who are working on-site to develop a “Social Distancing Protocol” that must be posted in the form required by the orders. The new orders also acknowledge Governor Newsom’s statewide March 19, 2020 Executive Order N-33-20, but explain they are, “in certain respects more stringent” than the statewide order in order to address “the particular facts and circumstances” in the county and in the Bay Area. Accordingly, they explicitly state, “Where a conflict exists between this Order and any state public health order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision controls.” READ MORE