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COVID-19 Employer Obligations & FAQ - Part 2

Posted by Lauren Walchek on March 16, 2020

UPDATE 3/17/2020:

Given the rapidly changing nature of this situation, we have decided to consolidate all questions and updates into a single blog post. We will keep this page, but we encourage you to visit our first post, COVID-19 Employer Obligations & FAQ for the most to update information.

This is the second part of a multi-post blog about commonly asked questions related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We know there is a lot of information out there and much of it is confusing. We're here to help you make sense of it and support your practice. As more information becomes available, we will continue to share it with you.

Read the first part of this blog post here.

  1. I have employees that need to stay home with their kids due to school closures and other employees that are worried about coming into work because of the risk of exposure. Do we have to pay them for this time?

    There’s no easy solution here as the situation with the virus is unprecedented. It’s understandable for employees to be nervous during this time and it’s important to be empathetic. 

    If an employee feels uncomfortable coming to work or cannot come to work because of childcare issues then you can give them unpaid time off.  They can also use their sick leave/vacation/PTO if they have any to cover some of their lost income. Be open to listening to employee’s concerns and try to accommodate them if possible. If accommodations are not possible due to business needs and they don’t want to work because of exposure concerns, kindly remind them what actions you are taking in the practice to prevent infection and what steps they can do to help protect both themselves and those around them.

    Alternatively, you can arrange for a modified schedule where you see fewer patients and half of your team works on some days while the other half works other days. It’s important to stay as flexible as possible during this time with constant changes happening.


  2. Do I have to close my practice due to the COVID-19 outbreak? 

    With rapidly changing regulations, the CDC strongly encourages businesses to actively check their state and local health official updates to ensure that they are responding to new regulations in their area in a timely manner. We recommend that you keep yourself updated with both federal and state OSHA requirements as well to ensure you are doing everything you need to in order to protect both your employees and your patients during this time.

    OSHA COVID-19 Guidance

    CDC Business Guidance

    If you are a dentist located in California, the CDA has strongly encouraged that all dental practices voluntarily suspend nonessential or non-urgent dental care for the next 14 days. More information can be found regarding their guidance here. Other states are likely to follow so please be sure you are keeping up to date with your state and local health officials, along with your state’s dental association.

  3. If I have to close my practice due to patient cancellations or government mandated regulations, do I have to pay my employees?

    Should you need to close your business or modify your office schedule in response to COVID-19, you are currently not required to pay employees for this time off. You may allow them to use any of their paid sick leave/Vacation/PTO during this time to help supplement their income. 

    As mentioned in our previous blog, employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits (if applicable in your state) as many states are expanding their requirements to support employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. Employees may also be eligible for disability benefits if they are affected themselves, as well as Paid Family Leave if they need to take time off to care for a family member, if applicable in your state. 


    Currently, this Act proposes two different types of leaves for employees. The first is the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. This states that any employer with fewer than 500 employees must provide two weeks of paid emergency sick leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is paid at the employee's regular rate of pay. 

    The second is under the Emergency Family & Medical Leave Expansion Act. The two-third's pay for up to three months specifically comes into play if an employee needs to take time off to care for a family member, including a child if their school or childcare is closed due to the coronavirus. This is an extension of current Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements.

    They have also proposed offering tax credits for small employers that have to pay their employees additional wages under this Act. This tax credit is allowed against the tax imposed by the employer portion of Social Security taxes.

    The Act still needs to be approved by the Senate and we are hopeful that there will be further clarifications that are published as more questions arise in response to the Act. We will continue to keep you posted and follow up on any developments with this Act.

Read the first part of this blog post here.

If you are a current HR for Health client and have additional questions, please reach out to our team by calling 877-779-4747. Please keep in mind that due to an influx in questions related to the COVID-19 outbreak, our response time may be slower than usual but we will get back to you as soon as we can! 

If you are not a current HR for Health client and have additional questions, please schedule an HR consultation with us by booking time here or calling us at 877-779-4747, option 1. 

HR for Health is one of the nation’s leading Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) used by small to mid-sized practices. HR for Health has provided the following complimentary articles to ensure you have a game plan when addressing complex HR matters.



Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services

Topics: compliance, employment law, workplace, general hr, covid-19, coronavirus

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