During the Covid-19 / Coronavirus pandemic, our attorneys remain available to provide a number of legal services to employers and employees. The pandemic is creating unique employment related issues leading to countless questions from employers and employees. You do not have to face these issues alone. Our Long Island employment lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC have been closely following all the legal developments, including reviewing the new employment related laws which are being enacted by federal and state governments, including in New York State. Here are some of the legal services our employment lawyers can provide during the Covid-19 pandemic and during the business shut down in New York.
Unemployment Insurance Questions
Legislation is expanding employees' access to unemployment insurance benefits. We expect Congress will provide sweeping changes to unemployment insurance benefits. Availability of benefits should be expanded to independent contractors and self-employed individuals. Further, the legislation should increase the amount of payments from current limits. Our employment attorneys are available to provide guidance about these changes, including providing advice about eligibility questions.
Sick Leave Questions
New York and the federal government have passed laws expanding sick leave availability for employees. The applicability of the laws can vary depending on factors such as employer size and revenue levels. The benefits also vary depending on employee salary and full or part time status. For help navigating through the maze of new laws, contact our employment lawyers. We can help employers understand their obligations, including their duty to provide job protection in some circumstances. We can also help employees understand the benefits to which they might be entitled. Some benefits provided by the new laws include paid leave and job protection while out on leave. The federal law alters some provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act so employers must understand these changes to ensure compliance.
Severance Agreement Review
While New York business is on "pause" for the Covid-19 pandemic, and while business are seeing a significant downturn in their business, many employers are turning to layoffs or furloughs. Some employers are offering severance packages. Our employment attorneys are available to draft severance agreements for employers and we can also review employee severance agreements for workers. We can also draft, review, and/or advise employers about termination or furlough letters. Severance agreements can be daunting and complex. Our employment lawyers can help employees understand their rights and obligations.
Employment Policy Drafting
Covid-19 may require that employers draft new employment policies to address social distancing and other safe workplace practices. Employers must also address and implement policies relating to the new sick leave laws coming out of Washington and Albany. Our lawyers can assist businesses in drafting applicable employment policies and updating existing employee handbooks. We can typically offer competitive all-inclusive pricing for our business services.
Are you an essential business?
Many states, including New York State, have classified businesses as either essential or non-essential. The classification can mean the difference between being lawfully allowed to keep your doors open and your business running verse being required to shut down. Determining whether your business is essential or non-essential can oftentimes be more complicated than you might think. Some businesses which you may think are non-essential, are actually essential. Making the wrong conclusion can result in severe penalties, including fines or criminal penalties. Our Long Island business lawyers can help you determine whether your business is essential or non-essential.
Employee pay during the pandemic
Employee pay laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL) remain in effect. This means employers must pay employees minimum wage and overtime. Employer demands to defer sage payments until after the pandemic may be unlawful. Similarly, employees who are furloughed, but continue to provide services for their company may be entitled to be paid for their work. Payroll errors even during the pandemic can result in monetary penalties from the Department of Labor or individual employee lawsuits about withheld wages or overtime. Employers and employees can consult with our employment lawyers about questions relating to employee pay during the coronavirus outbreak.
Discrimination and Retaliation
In addition to wage and hour laws, discrimination and retaliation laws also remain in effect and may employers may not discriminate or unlawfully retaliate against employees. Employers must understand their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the fine line which exists between lawfully protecting their employees and workplaces from coronavirus and engaging in unlawful disability discrimination. The EEOC has published guidelines to assist employers in understanding the questions they may ask employees to determine their threat of spreading coronavirus. If your business is essential and your employers are reporting to work, we can help you understand how can keep your employees safe without violating discrimination laws.
Employees who must continue to report for work during the Covid-19 pandemic are rightfully concerned their health and safety. Certainly, healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, home health aides, and nursing assistants are concerned about their exposure to the coronavirus. But, other workers who may be exposed to a high volume of people are also concerned. Grocery store clerks, maintenance and repair workers, and delivery drivers, are also concerned about the safety of their workplaces. Our employment lawyers can discuss safety concerns with employees and advise workers of rights they may have under OSHA or other laws.
Covid-19 and Coronavirus Resources
Our Long Island employment attorneys have been publishing information about ongoing employment issues related to coronavirus. Since every employer and employee issue is different, we encourage you to speak directly to one of our lawyers. Our business lines are open and staffed during the pandemic. But, all of our resources are also available online and can be accessed at any of the following links:
For more information, speak to one our Long Island employment lawyers at 631-352-0050.