COVID-19 Updates

April 30, 2021

U.S. Federal Updates

The American Families Plan

President Biden’s ambitious plan to strengthen families includes Paid Family and Medical Leave – an actual NATIONAL entitlement for American workers. Would it spell the end of the tangled web of state and local leave laws we’ve come to enjoy so much? What would we write about in our newsletter? One thing is for sure: the details will definitely change if there’s any hope of it passing the Senate.

The current version would provide workers up to $4,000 a month with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced (lower wage earners could get up to 80% of their wages).

Employees would be able to take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, deal with a loved one’s military deployment, find safety from sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence, heal from their own serious illness, or take time to deal with the death of a loved one.

This program would be phased-in over a 10-year period with a guaranteed 12 weeks of paid parental, family, and personal/illness/safe leave by year 10; employees would get 3 days of bereavement leave per year starting in year one.

There’s no mention of employees paying any of the cost of the program…yet.

Of course, we will keep you updated as the President’s plan works its way through the legislative process.

U.S. State Updates

California

City of San Francisco

The Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (PHELO) has expired. As you recall, many reenactments of the ordinance have occurred over the last several months; however, at this time, there are no plans to extend the ordinance further. We’ll let you know if things change.

Meanwhile, the Workers Protection Ordinance (aka The San Francisco Grocery Store, Drug Store, and On-Demand Delivery Service Worker Protections Ordinance) was recently passed and is effective April 26, 2021.

“On-Demand Delivery Service” is defined as a third-party online or mobile application or other internet service that offers or arranges for the consumer purchase and same-day delivery or scheduled delivery of food products, medications, or other goods directly from no fewer than 20 businesses that are restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, pharmacies, or other establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of food, medication, pharmaceuticals, or medical supplies.

“Worker” includes a person classified as an employee or an independent contractor as well as shoppers and drivers for an On-Demand Delivery Service. To be covered under the ordinance, workers have to perform at least two hours of work within the geographical boundaries of the city in a given week.

Covered entities are required to:

  • provide their workers with items such as face coverings, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant;
  • provide their workers with a social distancing policy, and instruct workers and customers on this policy;
  • provide for contactless payment systems or sanitize payment systems after each use;
  • provide for contactless delivery or pick up, if feasible; and
  • pay workers for time spent disinfecting high-touch surfaces.

The city has provided FAQs as well as a poster that must be displayed at each workplace or job site (may also be provided via electronic communication, or in a web-based or app-based worker platform).

The ordinance will expire on April 25, 2023 or upon termination of the local health emergency, whichever occurs first.

Indiana

Pregnancy Accommodations Law (HB 1309)

Starting July 1, 2021, Indiana employers with at least 15 employees will need to respond to an employee’s written request for an accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical conditions within a reasonable time (not defined). This law simply expands existing federal and state protections. This means that a request for accommodation due to an employee’s pregnancy does not require an employer to provide an accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy. It also does not impose a duty or obligation upon the employer to provide an accommodation or an exception to the employer’s policies (unless existing federal or state laws require that an accommodation be made). It does prohibit employers from disciplining, terminating, or retaliating against an employee who requests a pregnancy-related accommodation.

New Mexico

Healthy Workplaces Act (HWA) (HB 20)

Starting July 1, 2022, all employers will be required to provide paid leave to employees that can be used for the employee’s or their family members’:

  • Mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • Medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; and
  • Preventive medical care.

Additional leave reasons include:

  • For meetings at the employee’s child’s school or place of care related to the child’s health or disability; or
  • For absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking suffered by the employee or a family member of the employee, provided that the leave is for the employee to:
    • Obtain medical or psychological treatment or other counseling;
    • Relocate;
    • Prepare for or participate in legal proceedings; or
    • Obtain services or assist a family member with any of the above activities.

Other details:

  • Employees accrue a minimum of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked with an annual cap of 64 hours. Hours may be front-loaded.
  • Unused hours will carry over year to year, but employers are not required to permit an employee to use more than 64 hours in a 12-month period. Employers do not have to pay out unused hours when an employee separates from the company.
  • Employers cannot require employees to use other paid leave before the employee uses sick leave under the HWA.
  • Employers with a paid time off policy that makes available an amount of earned sick leave sufficient to meet the accrual requirements of the HWA and that may be used for the same purposes, terms and conditions is deemed in compliance with the HWA.
  • Documentation may be required only when an employee uses leave for two or more consecutive workdays.

There will be a required notice and poster. We will monitor and will share with you the model notice and poster once it’s available from the state labor department.

Canada Provincial Update

Ontario

New legislation is being introduced that would require employers to provide up to 3 days of paid leave (up to $200 per day) for reasons related to COVID-19. More details can be found here. We’ll monitor and will let you know if and when the law is passed.

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