COVID-19 Resources

I have complied a list of references including links to help answer your most pressing questions. Please check this often as I will be posting updates as they become available.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act goes into effect April 1, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020. See a summary below:

EXPANDED FMLA

What is expanded?

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act amends the current Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing leave for eligible employees who can’t work (or telework) because their minor child’s school or childcare service is closed due to a COVID-19 emergency declared by a federal, state or local authority.

Who is eligible?

Eligible employees include employees who work for an employer with fewer than 500 employees and who have been on the payroll for at least 30 calendar days.

Most employees of the federal government are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was not amended by this Act, and are therefore not covered by the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. However, federal employees covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act are covered by the paid sick leave provision.

Is this paid leave?

The first 10 days of this leave may be unpaid; however, employees may elect to substitute available paid time off, such as vacation, personal or sick leave, during this time.

After the initial 10 days, employers must pay eligible employees at least two-thirds of the employees’ regular rate of pay (as defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act) based on the number of hours the employees would otherwise have been scheduled to work. These paid-family-leave benefits are capped at $200 a day (or $10,000 total).

What is the effective date?

The expanded FMLA provisions take effect April 1, 2020 and expire on December 31, 2020.

PAID SICK LEAVE

Who is covered?

Employers with fewer than 500 employees and public agencies with at least one employee.

Which employees are eligible?

All employees, regardless of how long they have worked for the employer are eligible for paid sick leave, with the exception that an employer of health care providers or emergency responders may elect to exclude such employees.

How much leave is required?

Covered employers must provide full-time employees with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave if the employees are unable to work (or telework) due to COVID-19. Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave based on the number of hours the employees work, on average, over a two-week period.

What are the qualifying reasons for leave?

Qualifying reasons for this paid sick leave include:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to either number 1 or 2 above.
  5. The employee is caring for his or her son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the secretary of health and human services in consultation with the secretary of the treasury and the secretary of labor.

What are the pay requirements?

Paid sick leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater, for leave taken for reasons 1-3 above.  An Employee taking leave for reasons 4-6 may be compensated at two-thirds of his or her regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater.

What if the employee has other paid leave available?
An employer may not require an employee to use other types of paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the paid sick time available under this law.

New requirements for employers from the Georgia Department of Labor 

Penalties for Employers

Currently, employers are required to file partial claims on behalf of their full-time employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period and the employee earns an amount not exceeding their maximum weekly benefit amount plus $50.

On March 16, the GDOL announced new requirements for employers filing partial unemployment claims. Under Emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5, containing Rule 300-2-4-.09(1), impacting all partial claims filed on or after March 15:

  • All partial claims must be filed by employers online in the employer portal.
  • All employers must file partial claims with respect to any week during which an employee (full-time or part-time) works less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Any employer found to be in violation must pay to the labor commissioner the full amount of benefits paid to the employee.

Excluded Employees

The GDOL provides several circumstances in which employers should not file a partial claim. These include employees who:

  • Will be paid for the temporary layoff period (e.g., paid salary, paid sick leave, paid vacation or paid family leave).
  • Are or were on scheduled leave prior to the layoff period (e.g., a leave of absence or medical leave).
  • Are employed by a temporary agency and are currently working at your place of business.
  • Were employed in another state in the last 18 months (employees should be directed to apply for unemployment benefits online).
  • Were employed with the federal government or on active military service in the last 18 months (employees should be directed to apply for unemployment benefits online).

Additional Guidance for Employers

To maintain compliance with the new GDOL rules, employers are encouraged to be mindful of the following guidelines:

  • Be sure to accurately report the employee’s name, social security number, and date of birth to match the Social Security Administration’s records.
  • There must be seven days between payment week ending dates.
  • Do not submit claims until after the week-end date on the claim.
  • Report vacation pay, holiday pay, earnings, etc., during the week it was earned rather than the week it was paid.
  • Be sure to report any additional income employees are receiving to the GDOL, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income and pay for weekend military reserve duty.

How To File Partial Unemployment Claims Online

To submit partial claims, employers not already registered must register online on the GDOL employer portal. Once registered, employers can perform the following steps to file partial claims:

  • Log into the employer portal.
  • Select the employer account number under “registered account.”
  • Select the “file partial claims” link under “common links.”
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.
  • For step-by-step registration instructions, there is an administrator guide available for download on the employer portal page.

 

Life is Short, Work Somewhere Awesome!

Are you ready to learn the surprising truths about how to attract and retain top talent? I know you are, so let’s get right to it!

Forget the fully-stocked fridge with fancy bottles of water, craft beer and in-office massages. As cool as this sound, perks are not the reasons why people come to work for you nor are they enough to keep them from leaving. The secret to retaining smart, talented, ambitious, and innovative employees is to make sure they are surrounded by the same type of driven people.

The truth is that people want to be around people who light them up. We all want to learn something new, find a solution to a complex problem and work as a team to develop a ground-breaking product or service. At the heart of this, is the unwavering sense of belonging. Simply put, we need to feel connected to others.

So how do you do this? Making long-lasting connections with employees starts with a genuine care for them. When you care about someone, you want to bring out the best in them. You want to emphasize their strengths and help them strive to be better in all areas of their life. You can do this by involving them in daily business decisions, asking for their input and how they would approach a certain issue. Continually make eye contact and actively listen when they speak. Ask follow-up questions. Provide them with real-time feedback that is both positive and negative. By doing this, you are telling them they are part of something bigger.

Creating an environment where people feel safe to share their opinions and take risks is crucial to building trust. By encouraging all employees to use their voices, traditional walls between departments come down and suddenly everyone is trying to help the company achieve its goals. Your receptionist, accounting assistant, floor technician and inventory clerk all need to know their purpose. Here’s a question for you: If someone asked your entry-level employee what the top 3 things the company was working on, would they be able to answer? If not, you need to start educating them on the big picture. Don’t make the assumption that because they aren’t in a leadership role they don’t have anything to contribute.

Another way to build trust is to advocate friendly debates on work issues. This is an opportunity for people to shoot holes or find loopholes in other’s ideas and to decide together the best course of action. You don’t want people on your team who always agree with you just because you are the boss. This doesn’t help you get ahead of the competition.

Hold “after action review” meetings that include employees at all levels. Discuss a recent event’s wins and fails and encourage everyone to admit and share their mistakes. There’s no better way to learn and grow than a review session. Decide as a team what you will do differently next time.

Although some policies and workplace rules are essential, don’t stifle your employees with too many of them. By trusting them to be responsible adults and to make good decisions, you are creating a culture of freedom. This is achieved by holding them accountable with specific deadlines and deliverables. If they show you they aren’t responsible, then you can reign them in with clear expectations. Sadly, most company policies and rules are in place due to our litigious society. However, consistent and honest feedback go a long way to avoid a lawsuit. The root of all conflict is unclear expectations and lack of communication.

You don’t have to incorporate all of these things today. Pick one and do it consistently for a week and see what happens. You will begin to notice a dramatic shift in your team, your business and your bottom line which will leave you wondering why you didn’t do this sooner!

 

6 Steps to Get Amazing Results with Your Team!

We can all relate to unrolling a project out to our team and being less-than-satisfied with how it turned out. We feel frustrated and emotionally drained because as leaders, we know exactly what the result should be.  We envision the exact deliverable down to every last detail. It’s easy to take this for granted because we often assume that people understand what we want. The disconnect comes in when we don’t know how to articulate this to our team.

Well how do I do that, Wendy? Great question!

Step 1: Make sure you have an uninterrupted 15 minutes. Close your laptop. Turn your phone to silent.

Step 2: Set a time for 15 minutes. I know you are busy, but this will payoff I promise!

Step 3:  Take out a pen and some paper (yes, actual paper and a writing   instrument) and write down your desired result for the project.

Step 4:  Perform a brain dump of the steps needed to get that result. Focus on the broader steps first so you don’t get bogged down on the details.  Don’t worry about getting them in the right sequence yet.

Step 5:  Prioritize the steps in numerical order. Read the steps as one of your team members would. Is anything unclear or ambiguous? Does anything need to be simplified? Make any changes that you see immediately. Now, put it aside and come back to it after one hour.

Step 6: Read the list one final time making revisions as necessary. And Voila! You just reverse-engineered your deliverable!

Now here are just a few tips to get you to the finish line. Meet with your team and review the steps together. Reassure them there aren’t any “dumb” questions.  Invite them to ask clarifying questions. This is critical to getting the project off on the right foot.  A lot of times employees (especially millennials) are afraid to ask follow-up questions. They feel like they should already know what to do. Rather than asking you, they go straight to the internet to find their answers.  By making yourself accessible and approachable, you can avoid conflicts in later stages of the project.

But Wendy, why do I have to babysit my employees? Great question! The simple answer is you don’t.  Once you have given clear expectations and have emphasized that they come to you for answers, they will start to learn your preferences, and you will notice less and less hand holding. Yes, it may take more time initially, but you are training your staff on your likes and dislikes and preferred methods.

As a bonus, you are building morale, engaging, and empowering your employees just by spending more time with them and letting them know it’s okay to come to you when they get stuck. You will be surprised by the positive results clear communication and investing your time will yield!

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