The global Coronavirus/COVID 19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on working people across the globe. Many NEJB employers have curtailed operations or ceased operations all together. During this crisis the New England Joint Board is committed to representing and protecting our members to the best of our ability. In line with these goals we are providing the following information and resources to members.
FEDERAL FMLA AND SICK TIME EXPANSIONS
The US House and Senate have passed a package of bills expanding sick leave and FMLA leave to workers affected by COVID 19. The following expansions will apply:
Emergency Paid Sick Leave: Private employers with less than 500 employees and all public employers are required to provide two weeks of paid sick leave at full pay to employees who cannot work or telework due to quarantine, isolation, or pending diagnosis.
- Qualifying Employees:
- Employee subject to federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order re: Covid-19;
- Employee advised by a health provider to self-quarantine related to concerns related to Covid-19 (e.g., protected health condition);
- Employee is symptomatic and is seeking a diagnosis;
- Employee is caring for someone in categories (i)or (ii);
- Employee is caring for child if school/childcare closed due to Covid-19 precautions.
- All employees as defined by FLSA (and certain federal employees)
- Employees are eligible regardless of how long they have been employed by an employer, if they qualify (above)
- Duration of Benefit:
- Full-Time Employees: 80 hours
- Part-Time Employees: Average number of hours worked over a two-week period (if schedule fluctuates, six-month average of hours)
- No carryover of unused benefits permitted from one year to next
- Amount of Benefit:
- Personal isolation/quarantine: Full pay at maximum of $511/day or $5,110 total
- Caregiving isolation/quarantine/childcare: 2/3 full pay at maximum of $200/day or $2,000 total
- Benefit is based on greater of federal minimum wage, state/local minimum wage, or employee’s regular rate of pay as defined by FLSA.
- Employee Protections:
- Employee cannot be required to find replacement to cover their hours while on sick leave
- Employee cannot be required to use any other accrued sick leave before taking this leave
- Employee cannot be fired, disciplined, or discharged for taking this leave
- Violations: Constitute failure to pay minimum wages under FLSA and subject to FLSA penalties.
- Effective Date: 15 days after enactment of statute and sunsetting 12/31/20
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act: Amends key sections of FMLA to include time out of work due to childcare needs. Applies to private employers with less than 500 employees and all public employers.
- Qualifying Employees: Employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. Certain health care providers and emergency responders exempted, as well as small businesses with less than 50 employees which can show that imposition of the requirements would jeopardize the ongoing viability of the business.
- Eligibility: Employees must be unable to work or telework due to absence of childcare for child under 18 if school or place of care closed or childcare provider unavailable
- Duration of Benefit: 12 weeks maximum
- Amount of Benefit: First 10 days is unpaid leave but employee may substitute any vacation, personal, or medical or sick leave provided by employer. After first 10 days, at least 2/3 an employee’s regular rate of pay (defined by FLSA) for the hours they are regularly scheduled to work (or if schedule varies, average number of hours for last six months)—but pay shall not exceed $200/day or $10,000 in total (for entirety of leave).
- Notice Requirements: Employees must provide as much notice “as practicable” if foreseeable
- Effective Date: 15 days after enactment and sunsetting 12/31/20
UNION RESOURCES AND UNEMPLOYMENT INFORMATION
Union Office Operations: As of 7/8 the Union headquarters in Boston is open again.
Resources for Members: The following resources have been provided by the International Union
- UNITE HERE COVID 19 Fact Sheet (English/Spanish/Chinese)
- How to Wash Hands Posters (English/Spanish/Chinese)
- How to Safely Remove Protective Gloves (English/Spanish/Chinese)
Unemployment Assistance: The Federal Government has provided guidelines for states to follow in relaxing the requirements for Unemployment Insurance. The Federal guidelines allows states to pay benefits where:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member
Each state must enact it’s own legislation in order to implement the new federal guidelines. Below is a listing of each state in the NEJB’s jurisdiction and information about the status of updating its unemployment system to conform to federal guidelines.
Connecticut: New unemployment claims may be filed by clicking here. All workers who become unemployed due to Coronavirus should file for unemployment. The following steps should be followed when filing a claim:
- Answer “YES” to the question “Do you have a DEFINITE return to work date after today?”
- If you do not know your return to work date but expect to return to your job, enter 04/01/2020 for your return to work date when prompted.
- Have your employer’s DOL registration number available. If you do not have the number, enter 99-999-95
- When you are asked if you are able and available for full-time work on either your initial claim or your weekly claims, please answer “No” only if you are out of work because YOU are sick.
- If your employer is shutting down for a period of time because of COVID-19 and will be paying you your usual wages for this time, you are not eligible for unemployment.
Maine: Emergency legislation was approved this week by the legislature to allow Maine workers unemployed due to COVID 19 to file for unemployment. Please refer to this document for eligibility information. Unemployment claims may be filed by calling 1-800-593-7660 or online.
Massachusetts: Workers laid off due to COVID 19 should apply for unemployment assistance immediately. For a guide to applying for unemployment due to COVID 19 click here.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has relaxed the following rules for CURRENT claims in the system:
- All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
- Missing deadlines due to effects of COVID-19 will be excused under DUA’s good cause provision.
- All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only.
The has approved a waiver of the 1 week waiting period before receiving benefits. The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development has implemented emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. The following conditions willapply:
- Workers must remain in contact with their employer during the shutdown.
- Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do.
- An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shut-down to eight weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
- If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers.
Workers should file for unemployment online at the Department of Unemployment Assistance website.
New Hampshire: As of 3/19 Governor Sununu has exapnded the scope of eligibility and has extended benefits to workers dealing with COVID 19. Updates can be found at the Department of Employment Security website. Workers laid off due to COVID 19 should file for unemployment immediately by calling 603-271-7700 or applying online here.
New York: The New York State Department of Labor has waived the seven day waiting period before receipt of unemployment benefits. Workers on lay off due to COVID 19 may file for benefits by calling 888-209-8124 or through the Department of Labor website.
If you are filing a new unemployment insurance claim, the day you should file is based on the first letter of your last name. If your last name starts with A – F, file your claim on Monday. For last names starting with G – N, file your claim Tuesday. For last names starting with O – Z, file your claim on Wednesday. If you missed your filing day, file your claim on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Filing later in the week will not delay your payments or affect the date of your claim, since all claims are effective on the Monday of the week in which they are filed.
For instruction on how to file your claim please see the step by step guide here.
Rhode Island: The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training is allowing workers laid off due to COVID 19 to apply for unemployment benefits. Workers are encouraged to follow the RIDLT fact sheet on filing for unemployment. Unemployment claims can be filed by calling 401-243-9100 or by filing a claim online.
Vermont: Workers impacted by COVID 19 or laid off due to COVID 19 may file for unemployment benefits here or by calling 1-877-214-3332. By executive order of Governor Scott payments will be expedited and the filing process will be waived.
*Please check this page often as it will be regularly updated as new information is released*
*Updated 7/8/20 1:29 PM*