April 14, 2020: The United States Department of Labor Issues Additional Guidance for Employers and States on COVID-19 Response Measures
The Guidance Relaxes OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements for Many Employers
The U.S. Department of Labor issued interim enforcement guidance for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recordkeeping requirements as they relate to cases of COVID-19.
Because COVID-19 is considered a “recordable illness” under OSHA rules, employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 when an employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19 that is (i) work-related and that (ii) involves one or more recording criteria, including, but not limited to, days away from work and medical treatment beyond first aid.
Employers in healthcare, emergency medical, firefighting, law enforcement, and correctional industries must follow those general reporting requirements. However, because it is often difficult for other employers to determine whether the transmission of a particular COVID-19 case was “work-related,” OSHA is exempting most employers from COVID-19 recordkeeping requirements unless (1) there is objective evidence the COVID-19 case may be work related, and (2) that evidence was reasonably available to the employer.
These recordkeeping requirements and exceptions took effect on April 10, 2020, and will remain in effect until further notice from the U.S. Department of Labor.
U.S. Department of Labor Clarifies the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration issued guidance to State Departments of labor about the federally funded Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Program (“PEUC”), which was recently authorized by Congress in the CARES Act.
Under the PEUC, states will provide up to 13 weeks of federally funded benefits to qualifying individuals who:
- have exhausted all rights to regular compensation under state or Federal law with respect to an unemployment benefit year that ended on or after July 1, 2019;
- have no rights to regular compensation with respect to a week under any other state or federal unemployment compensation law, or to compensation under any other federal law;
- are not receiving compensation with respect to a week under the unemployment compensation laws of Canada; and
- are able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work; although states must offer flexibility on “actively seeking work” where there are COVID-19 impacts and constraints.
The PEUC unemployment benefits are fully funded by the federal government, meaning states may not seek contributions from employers.
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