ICYMI: U.S. Department of Labor Acts to Help American Workers and Employers During the Coronavirus Pandemic
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor took a range of actions to aid American workers and employers as our nation combats the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Reopening America’s Economy:
· U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia Delivers Remarks On Department of Labor’s Coronavirus Response – U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia delivered remarks on the principles that must guide the country’s reopening at an event on June 15, 2020, which also featured the launch of the final report of the Heritage Foundation’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission. View the Secretary’s remarks here.
· Secretary Scalia Joins Vice President Pence for a Visit to Michigan – Vice President Pence thanked Secretary Scalia and remarked at Casadei Steel Inc., “You know, we’ve all passed through very challenging times over the last several months. But I’m proud to report to you, after all that we’ve been through, standing here today because of the sacrifices the American people have made, because of the incredible dedication of our healthcare workers, because of the way that American businesses stepped up, every state in this country is now opened up again, and three-quarters of America’s small businesses are going back to work.”
· U.S. Secretary of Labor Scalia Highlights Safely Reopening Economy during Visit to Pennsylvania –U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia traveled to Beaver Springs, Pennsylvania, where he joined Rep. Fred Keller (PA-12) for a tour of Conestoga Wood Specialties and a meeting with employees and leadership to discuss workplace safety and reopening the economy. Earlier in the day, Secretary Scalia joined Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza and Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10) in Camp Hill for a roundtable discussion with women small business owners on safely reopening the economy.
Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:
· As More Businesses Reopen, Worker Safety and Health Remains U.S. Department of Labor Priority – As more workplaces begin to reopen, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers that worker safety remains a priority amid both coronavirus and common workplace hazards.
· U.S. Department of Labor Publishes 14 Additional Translations Of OSHA Poster On Proper Workplace Use of Respirators – OSHA has published the “Seven Steps to Correctly Wear a Respirator at Work” poster in 14 additional languages. Initially available in English and Spanish, the poster demonstrates and describes seven steps every worker should follow when putting on and taking off a respirator.
· U.S. Department of Labor Issues OSHA Guidance As Non-Essential Businesses Reopen and Employees Return to Work – OSHA has issued guidance to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic. The guidance supplements the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and the White House’s Guidelines for Opening up America Again. The guidelines provide general principles for updating restrictions originally put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. During each phase of the reopening process, employers should continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training.
Helping Unemployed Americans:
· U.S. Department of Labor Issues Further Guidance to Help States Improve Unemployment Insurance Program Integrity and Prevent Fraud – “It is vital, now more than ever, that states exercise due diligence in the administration of their unemployment insurance programs to ensure taxpayer funds are spent properly,” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “[This] guidance will help states detect fraud and assess the accuracy of payments to ensure benefits are provided only to eligible claimants.”
Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave and Wages Earned:
· Miami-Dade Victims Assistance Center Pays Back Wages and Reinstates Leave Hours After Violating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found that, after a medical doctor instructed an employee to quarantine for 14 days for reasons related to the coronavirus, the employer granted the employee 40 hours of paid leave, but required the worker to use personal sick leave to cover the remainder of the quarantine period. After working with WHD, the organization agreed to reinstate the employee’s personal sick leave hours and paid the 40 hours under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA).
· The U.S. Department of Labor offered two webinars in Spanish for agricultural employers and employees in California about the paid sick and expanded family and medical leave benefits available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
· Florida Manufacturer Pays Back Wages to Employee Denied Paid Sick Leave Required Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act – WHD found the manufacturer and distributor of fishing products failed to pay for two weeks spent out of work after a doctor instructed an employee to self-quarantine for the coronavirus, a qualifying reason for paid sick leave under the FFCRA. The employer also failed to provide the employee’s paycheck for work performed prior to the protected leave, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor is focused on protecting the safety and health of American workers, assisting our state partners as they deliver traditional unemployment and expanded unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, ensuring Americans know their rights to new paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, providing guidance and assistance to employers, and carrying out the mission of the Department.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.