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Special Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact-Staffing Update

03/31/2020

Navigating the path ahead with your employees during this difficult time is a process that warrants careful planning and cooperation. We are not attorneys nor is anything in our communications intended as a substitute for legal advice.  Here are some business issues to consider:

1. Employees with written employment agreements—Communicate, Communicate, Communicate:

a.      Review all “notice” provisions and employment terms and discuss these with the employee.

b.     Discuss the financial impact of the practice’s forced slowdown with the contracted employee.  If they have never owned a business, you may need to educate them about this.

c.      Develop work plans for the coming week and likely alternatives for the subsequent 2 weeks thereafter.

d.     Considering the adjustments to workload and the resulting decline in practice income, discuss adjustments to compensation including

                                                    i.     Base Pay

                                                  ii.     Incentive Pay

                                                iii.     Benefits—such as payment of health insurance premiums

e.      Ideally, this should be a collaborative process between owner and employee.

f.      You should consult your practice’s attorney throughout this process to ensure that you don’t inadvertently fail to address vital legal aspects of your relationship.

 

2.     2. Employees without written agreementsCommunicate, Communicate, Communicate:

a.      Weekly—Communicate your plans for the coming week, including:

                                                    i.     Communicate Work Hours

1.     In Office

2.     Telecommuting—we have resources regarding “Work from Home” policies.  Please reach out for more information if needed.

                                                  ii.     Establish Weekly work goals for each employee.  Do this for both those working in the office and those working from home.  We have a number of ideas about this.

b.     For those working at home, establish a weekly assessment to review what worked and what didn’t the prior week. 

c.      Longer term—quite difficult to make concrete plans given the near-term uncertainty.  Emphasize your desire to return to “normal” as soon as conditions permit.

 

3.     3. Terminations, Furloughs, and Layoffs—Employees Without Written Agreements

a.      If you terminate an employee, it is considered best practice to pay them their earned/accumulated vacation/pto time, and our understanding is that you must pay them for their earned and accumulated sick and earned paid time off.  Consult your attorney for legal guidance on this matter. 

b.     A furlough is considered an alternative to a termination or layoff.  You may require furloughed employees to work fewer hours or take unpaid leave.  You may ask nonexempt “hourly” employees to reduce hours, but you must be careful when furloughing exempt employees due to issues relating to the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

c.      A layoff is a temporary separation from payroll.  Employees are laid off because there is not enough work for him or her to perform.  Both employer and employee hope that the layoff is temporary.

 

In any situation involving a reduction of hours or of employee (work force) review your handbook (if you have one) and be sure to Communicate, Communicate, Communicate:

1.     Updates regarding the business/practice:

a.      Continuation of status?

b.     Return to work?

c.      General Practice Information

2.     Pertinent Issues Relating to an Employee’s Benefits

a.      Group health plan—how will premiums be handled—contact group insurance provider/broker

b.     Retirement Plan—payouts take up to a year, so be sure to set expectations.

c.      Other group benefit plans such as life insurance, disability, cafeteria plans etc.

 

4.     4. Unemployment Insurance—Before and After the CARES ACT—Effective 4/1/2020 

a.      Before the CARES ACT Illinois and Indiana offered benefits that roughly equated to 47% of most employees’ weekly compensation.  The weekly benefits were capped at $471/week for Illinois and $390/week for Indiana.

b.     After the CARES ACT these benefits are enhanced by $600/week, and the CARES ACT increased the benefits payable to those working fewer hours, making it more attractive to continue part-time work rather than claim full-unemployment.

c.      Before and After the CARES ACT, in Illinois you should give any employee who is laid off for a period of 7 days or more the publication found in this link:

http://www.ides.illinois.gov/IDES%20Forms%20and%20Publications/CLI111L.pdf

 

5.     5. Families First Coronavirus Response Act becomes effective from 4/1/20 to 12/31/2020

a.      Stay tuned: Health Care Providers and their employees may be exempt from this. 

IF NOT EXEMPT THEN

b.     Every employer under 500 employees is subject to this. 

c.      There are two benefits resulting from this act which are outlined in the required poster that you must exhibit in your office.  Please follow the first link below, print, and display the poster as required.  The second and third links provide additional information about these benefits. 

https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

d.     We have developed a spread sheet to assist in the calculation relating to the computation of these benefits.  Additionally, we are developing a simplified set of questions to assist you in determining an employee’s eligibility for either of these benefits.

 

Below are additional resources that you and your employees may find useful:

Illinois

https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx

Indiana

https://www.in.gov/dwd/19.htm

https://www.in.gov/dwd/files/Indiana_Unemployment_FAQ.pdf

 

 

https://www.in.gov/gov/files/EO_20-05.pdf

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