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Tip Tuesday: 7 Ways Employers Can Assist Employees During COVID-19

April 21, 2020

Regardless of the line of business, there are a range of actions that employers can take to assist their employees during the current Coronavirus pandemic.  Employers' ability to make exceptions to current policies may be driven by the nature of the business, the existence of labor agreements and the impact of the pandemic on the balance sheet. 

Here are some of the actions currently being taken by many employers to assist their employees financially while preparing for a reduced operational footprint in the foreseeable future:  

  • Short-term pay protection for an employer-defined period for any directed quarantine, monitoring or diagnosis for both the employee and “high risk” members of the household.
  • Ability to take an unpaid personal leave of absence at employer discretion based on the needs of the service, with durations ranging from one month to twelve months, without charging the employee’s sick leave bank or adjusting the employee’s longevity/seniority for pay, benefit and bidding purposes. 
  • Allow employees to utilize unused, accrued vacation while on an unpaid personal leave of absence.
  • Create reduced hour work schedules or job sharing schedules without reducing full-time benefits.  
  • Allow employees to continue to be treated as “active” for purposes of health insurance eligibility and monthly employee premiums while on an unpaid personal leave or on a reduced hour schedule.  Arrange for direct payment of employee premiums by the employee to the insurance provider.
  • If layoffs or furloughs are required, offer as a voluntary option first, and extend the period that an employee can continue to be covered by health insurance at active employee rates.  Arrange for direct payment of employee premiums by the employee to the insurance provider.
  • For employees subject to layoff, furlough or reduced hours, publish links on Company digital sites or through other communications means, with information on how to apply for state unemployment benefits, and with confirmation that the Company will not challenge their claims.