The latest coronavirus updates and how they're affecting Colorado businesses
Stay up to date on policies, news and issues relating to COVID-19 and how it effects your business
As coronavirus spreads across the world and the country, businesses are experiencing a major shift in their day-to-day operations, including employee interaction, business strategy and more. With daily changes to policies, regulations and lifestyle, ColoradoBiz is dedicated to bringing you the latest news affecting employers and employees. This page will continually be updated with the latest changes and news by Kim Ritter, director and employment law attorney at MB Law. So, bookmark this page and check back regularly.
April 2, 2020
Business owners' requirements for the Familes First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights
The requirement is that all businesses must display the new U.S. Department of Labor’s poster regarding employee paid leave rights by April 1, 2020. Since many employees are now working from home, you should also email this poster to everyone in your organization to demonstrate compliance. Here is a link to download the Employee Rights poster. This poster should be displayed in your workplace along with other required labor law notices. If you are unsure about acceptable posting requirements just follow these guidelines from the U.S. DOL Wage and Hour Division’s FAQs. You may obtain additional information regarding your obligations under the FFCRA employee paid leave rights requirements here.
March 31, 2020
The rules for exempt employees still on the job
Many employers are relying on their exempt employees (executives, administrators or professionals) to cover the workload of the downsized business now that non-exempt employees have been laid off. What are the rules for exempt employees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Exempt employees generally must receive their full salary in any week in which they perform any work. The FLSA does not limit the number of hours per day or week that an exempt employee can be required to work. If the exempt employee’s work is outside of their job description be mindful of the Department of Labor test that fifty percent 50% of the exempt employee’s duties remain as the employee’s primary duties and that those duties are of sufficient importance to the employer, in order to maintain their exempt status.
Colorado Apartment Association advises rent relief
Landlords, are you prepared to deal with COVID-19?
Tenants are being advised by the Colorado Apartment Association to request relief from landlords. Now is the time to decide how you plan to respond to tenants who request:
- A payment plan
- Waiver of late fees
- Deferral of eviction actions
- Postponement of rent increases
Although no official order is currently in place in Colorado, the Governor has asked that sheriff's offices avoid taking any eviction actions through April 30. In essence, many officials are following a de facto moratorium on ceasing to process eviction summonses and notices. This is caused by the effective shut down of the state and federal court systems.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been ordered to suspend foreclosures and foreclosure related evictions for at least two months. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is suspending evictions and foreclosures through April related to the fallout of the coronavirus.
Landlords, whatever action you decide to take, put it in writing as a modification to the lease.
March 24, 2020
Denver Mayor issues stay at home order
The Denver Stay at Home order goes into effect at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 24. The intent of the order is to protect the ability of public and private health care providers to handle in influx of new patients and safeguard public health.
What about non-essential businesses? How do they handle their employees in response to the Stay at Home order? Here are some helpful tips:
- Communication is key. Talk to your employees remotely so they understand what is happening with their jobs.
- The order closes physical business that are non-essential, but it does not prohibit employees from working remotely.
- Wage and hour laws still apply.
- If you cut headcount, you should be furloughing people or laying them off.
- Employees who are not working during this shutdown can apply for unemployment.
- Remember that the paid sick leave and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act takes effect on April 2, 2020.
Read the full Denver Stay at Home order.
March 23, 2020
Colorado Governor orders reduction of non-critical workplaces
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has ordered all non-critical workplaces to reduce their workforce by 50% or more effective today. Is your business or workplace considered critical by the State of Colorado?
According to the order, the following businesses are critical:
- Health Care operations
- Critical Infrastructure including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, organizations that provide for disadvantaged people and food supply chain
- Critical Manufacturing such as food, beverages, chemical, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products and agriculture
- Critical Retail such as grocery stores, liquor stores, farms, gas stations, restaurants and bars for takeout, marijuana dispensaries but only for medical or curbside deliver and hardware stores
- Critical Services such as trash and recycling, mail, shipping, laundromats, childcare, building and cleaning and maintenance, auto supply and repair. warehouses/distribution, funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, and animal shelters and rescue
- News Media
- Financial Institutions
- Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged population
- Public Safety services like law enforcement, fire prevention and response, EMT’s, security, disinfection, cleaning, boiling code enforcement, snow removal and auto repair
- Vendors that Provide critical services including logistics, childcare, tech support or contractors with critical government services
- Critical Government Functions
If your business is not on this list it is considered a non-critical business and must conform to the 50% reduction of in-person workforce, or if not practical or possible, must stagger work schedules to keep personnel a minimum of six-feet apart.
You can review the complete list of business requirements and exemptions in Public Health Order 20-24.
March 20, 2020
Coronavirus aid package signed into law
On the evening of Wednesday, March 18, the President signed the coronavirus aid package into law. It will go into effect in 15 calendar days on April 2, 2020, so make sure your business is prepared to implement the new law. The bill contains the following components:
Benefits for Employees
- Leave taken to care for children whose schools or daycares have closed is paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay, with a maximum of $200 per day or $10,000 total.
- Employers may not force employees to use up their vacation or other sick time before receiving this benefit.
- There is a 10-day waiting period before this benefit applies so employees can use existing sick or vacation time to cover these 10 days.
This bill includes a prohibition on retaliating against any employee who takes leave. Moreover, the failure to pay the required leave will be treated as a failure to pay minimum wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Benefits for Employers
- Tax credits for 100 percent of what an employer pays out to employees, with the above-noted limits.
- If an employer has 50 or fewer employees, the Secretary of Labor can exempt the business from this requirement.
- Employers with fewer than 25 employees do not have to restore employees to their previous positions.
- The bill will apply to businesses that employ fewer than 500 employees.
- The six (6) qualifying reasons for coverage are:
The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine order, or the individual has been advised to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
The employee is caring for the employee’s son or daughter, if the child’s school or child care facility has been closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by Health and Human Services in consultation with the Department of Treasury and the Department of Labor.
Kim Ritter is a director and employment law attorney. She is an experienced litigation attorney that represents clients on wage and hour issues, employee hiring and terminations, discipline, unemployement compensation and workplace policies. In addition, Ritter trains corporate clients on issues of workplace diversity and harassment, and frequently speaks at seminars involving commercial and employment-related topics.