COVID-19 and More

You can visit just about any web site these days and get information on COVID-19, including Executive Orders, Labor Laws, Unemployment, and more.  What you can't always get is clarity.  For once I am going to say  don't place all the blame for this lack of clarity on our politicians.  Please keep in mind that employment law and related practices are "managed" based on case history.  There is no case history for this current pandemic and the unusual situations it has created.  Therefore, many of us are flying by the seat of our pants so to speak!  We have to use what knowledge we have of the laws, and apply that while also considering the intent of the law.  I, for one, am spending a great deal of time learning; not just one webinar, not just one web site, and certainly I don't use the news media as a source of credible information.  I use multiple resources for my information, including networking with other human resources professionals so we can share experiences.

Here are a couple of often discussed topics that you might find of interest.   

Q.  I called an employee back to work from lay-off

and they refused.  Can they do that?

A.   Sure they can.  However, you have the right to  notify unemployment that you made them an  offer and they refused.  Employees on UE who  refuse a reasonable offer of employment  disqualify themselves from being able to continue to collect UE benefits.

Q. What if an employee says they are afraid to return to the workplace.  Do I have to let them stay home?

A.    It depends!  Find out why they are afraid to return to the workplace.   If their reason is "just because", then they have essentially resigned and you should inform them of that.  However, if their reason falls under any of the job protected directives regarding providing a safe work place, then they may be eligible for either federal or NYS paid leave or other benefits.  For example, if they are under and order of quarantine; they are eligible for benefits.  If they have a suppressed immune system, they may be eligible for benefits (you have to explore it further).  So don't be quick to accept their being afraid, and equally don't be quick to insist they return.  Have a conversation.


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