News and Analysis
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives this week introduced the HEROES Act (aka “Phase IV” of the federal response to COVID-19). The legislation would spend another $3 trillion by providing a new round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals, and an extension to January of the $600/month in extra unemployment benefits, among other things.
See this summary of the bill by OMA Connections Partner Clark Schaefer Hackett.
The HEROES Act would require employers to provide paid sick and emergency FMLA leave to workers regardless of company size, according to reports. It would also temporarily suspend minimum hour eligibility requirements and reduce tenure requirements for non-emergency FMLA. 5/14/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic could reduce the health care costs of large, self-funded employers by as much as 4% in 2020 due to deferred medical care, according to a study by Willis Towers Watson. Other health plan costs, including dental and vision care, will likely decrease in 2020 as employees eliminate some discretionary care, according to the firm. 5/11/2020
Ohio’s major business organizations — including the OMA — this week urged the state’s federal delegation to consider the negative hiring effects of the federal government’s additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 emergency. Under current law, the additional aid is scheduled to continue through July 31, 2020. 5/7/2020
To address potential unemployment insurance fraud, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has created this page for employers to report employees who quit or refuse work when it is available. ODJFS has posted FAQs regarding unemployment eligibility and other issues at the bottom of its employer resource hub.
As noted in guidance from Bricker & Eckler, the OMA’s general counsel, when employees quit or refuse an offer of work without just cause, they may become ineligible for unemployment benefits. If you have employees who refuse to return to work or quit work, it’s important to let ODJFS know so agency officials can make accurate eligibility determinations. 5/4/2020
On Tuesday, May 5, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance to address returning workers with pre-existing medical conditions. The next day, May 6, the agency retracted part of that new guidance, saying the answer to G.4 in the document was revised to clarify the ADA does not allow exclusion of employees simply because they have an underlying medical condition that the CDC says might pose a higher risk of severe illness if the individual contracts COVID-19.
OMA Connections Partner Benesch has posted this update on the agency’s retraction. 5/7/2020
The EEOC said this week it will delay the opening of its 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection, as well as the 2020 EEO-3 and EEO-5 data collections due to the novel coronavirus. The agency encouraged filers to prepare data submissions for 2021. 5/7/2020
With motor vehicle licensing bureaus closed in many states — and people experiencing challenges renewing their state-issued driver’s licenses and identity cards– some job applicants and employees are incurring difficulty in establishing their identity on Form I-9. The Department of Homeland Security has temporarily changed its Form I-9 policy, according to this insight from OMA Connections Partner Benesch. 5/5/2020
This week, News Radio 610 WTVN (Columbus) host Joel Riley interviewed HR expert Adam Calli, owner and founder of Arc Human Capital, LLC. Calli discussed how employers can guard against COVID-19-related lawsuits by employees — and how the workers’ compensation system may play a helpful role. 4/29/2020
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to re-open its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers on June 4, according to a press release. In the meantime, the agency encourages employers to visit this site for immigration-related questions or concerns. 4/28/2020
As more businesses prepare to re-open, important ADA-related questions are being raised by employers, such as:
- How will we know what steps we can take to be consistent with the ADA when screening employees for COVID-19?
- Should we grant employee requests for accommodations due to a need for modified protective gear?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) answers these questions and more in its recently updated guidance. Most notably, the agency says the employers can test employees for COVID-19 before permitting them to enter the workplace as long as the tests are accurate and reliable. 4/20/2020