On Monday, June 15th, 2020, the Supreme Court has solidified protection for LGBTQ employees, banning any employer in the United States from terminating or discriminating against an employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The ruling includes these protections under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act. Though Colorado has protected our LGBTQ workers since 2008, up until Monday, it was legal in 29 other states to discriminate against workers due to their LGBTQ status.
On July 14, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law the Healthy Family and Workplaces Act (Senate Bill 205), requiring employers in Colorado to begin accruing at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours total. This new law requirement goes into effect for employers with 16 or more employees on January 1, 2021, and for all other covered employers (regardless of how many employees they employ) on January 1, 2022.
The law permits use of paid sick leave hours immediately, for personal employee illness or medical appointments including well visits, to care for family members, for leave associated with certain domestic abuse or sexual assault issues, and includes mental health.
The law applies to hourly, salaried, exempt, non-exempt, and even seasonal employees, mandates only limited notice and documentation requirements for sick leave requests, prohibits retaliation against employees requesting sick leave (including any reduction in pay or discipline for requesting or taking sick leave), and requires posted notices, imposes specific record-keeping requirements.
The law does not require accrued, unused sick leave hours be paid out upon separation.
A rehire provision mandates that employees who separate and are rehired must be given the bank of hours they had upon separation.
Numerous questions await clarification from the CDLE, such as:
1. Does my PTO policy comply with this new leave law?
2. If my company offers PTO and pays out accrued and unused balances upon separation, and an employee is rehired, how would I know what balance I must give them if they are rehired?
Now is the time to contemplate policy changes that will comply with the new law. As we hear more from the CDLE, we will reach out to each of our clients to ensure they are in compliance with the Healthy Family and Workplaces Act. Our software system is fully able to handle this paid sick leave mandate and has been doing so for many clients with employees who work in states with a similar paid sick leave requirement.
OSHA has recently revised their return to work guidance for employers who are open during our current COVID pandemic. The new 27 page publication can be accessed here:
The previously issued 35 page guidance contains much similar content, but a few newly updated version puts a focus on:
- Conducting a thorough hazard assessment that examines the potential COVID-19 exposures for each job category and outlines protective measures.
- Clarifying that employers may perform daily temperature checks and health assessments of employees, so long as the checks are administered transparently and fairly and anyone performing the checks is protected from possible infection. However, asking employees to self-check at home may be more efficient, especially when paired with sick-leave policies that encourage workers to stay home if they feel ill. Temperature screening “may have limited utility on its own,” OSHA wrote. NOTE Colorado’s mandated RTW policies as well local jurisdiction’s requirements.
- Cloth face masks are recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and cloth masks may count as administrative controls for keeping the workplace safe. However, OSHA reiterated that cloth face masks are not personal protective equipment (PPE) and so are not subject to requirements for training and fit testing. Cloth face masks cannot be used in place of more protective N95 masks, which are required as PPE in certain health care, construction and other settings.
OSHA’s guidance must be used in tandem with the state of Colorado’s requirements:
This is a reprint from our partners at Anthem. We love their message here, and we are thinking of all of you and doing our best to learn and be better.
Our commitment to a more just community
Our communities are hurting after the tragic death of George Floyd, and countless others who came before him. We are all shaken by grief and frustration. Personally, these recent events have given me pause to reflect across the many aspects of my life — as a leader, as a citizen, and as a parent. There is a regrettable history of suffering and injustice in our Black community, and that suffering should be important to all of us.
The effects of COVID-19, together with the social unrest, have further illuminated the racial and health disparities that have plagued our communities. These local communities, where we live and work, are also where we serve you, our customers and members, through the lens of inclusion, acceptance and belonging. It’s always been a part of our foundation, a part of our founding tenets of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, and who we are as people. But these recent weeks have spotlighted issues that we’ve not spent enough time talking about — not only as a company, but certainly as a society and as a country. We at Anthem are pledging to do more. You can count on us, and on me.
Today, Anthem and the Anthem Foundation announced commitments to drive national change with a $50 million pledge over the next five years focused on directly impacting racial injustice issues, strengthening our communities and addressing health inequities. With our 75-year history in local communities, Anthem is compelled by our values to improve the lives and the health of communities and help build a better, more equitable and healthier America.
Today’s investment will reinforce and strengthen long-standing partnerships with national and community organizations that are working tirelessly to combat systemic racial inequality and health inequities. As we build upon this legacy, Anthem and our Foundation will work side-by-side with new and existing partners to find ways to unify and bridge conversations around these issues and open an important dialogue for all Americans. Our engagement includes matching donations made by Anthem associates to non-profit organizations dedicated to addressing social and health disparities across the country, and working alongside small businesses in our communities to support their recovery and resilience through restoration and clean-up efforts.
We each have the ability — and obligation — to advance the change that is overdue and create a better future for everyone.
This is a time for healing, for reconciliation, and for action. This work won’t stop. We can and will do more to ensure that all of our members and customers, across all of our communities, are part of a more hopeful nation — together.
Gail Boudreaux, President and CEO
Today the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) was signed into law. The Act is intended to ease the rules of the PPP. A summary of the changes follows:
• Instead of eight weeks, borrowers will now have 24 weeks from the disbursement of their loan to use the PPP funds, or until Dec. 31 when the program is now set to end. Borrowers can still opt, however, to use funds in the original eight-week period.
• Employers now have to spend 60 percent—rather than the previous 75 percent—of PPP funds on payroll costs. Payroll costs include:
Salary, wages, commissions and tips—up to $100,000 annualized for each employee.
Employee benefits, including paid leave, severance pay, insurance premiums and retirement benefit.
State and local taxes assessed on pay.
The additional 40 percent could be spent on mortgage interest, rent, utilities and other costs.
• Employers now have until Dec. 31, rather than June 30, to rehire certain laid-off workers if they are seeking loan forgiveness. If a suitable offer of employment is turned down by the employee, employers must meet five conditions to avoid having their loan forgiveness reduced. Businesses must:
1. Clearly present an offer letter in writing to the laid-off worker.
2. Offer the same salary, wages and number of hours the employee had prior to the layoff.
3. Receive a rejection of the offer.
4. Document the offer and the rejection. “The refusal does not need to be in writing but should be documented and kept in the employer’s PPP loan forgiveness file,” he said.
5. Notify the state unemployment office within 30 days of the date the offer is refused (InTANDEM can do this for you, we just need to have steps 1-4 from you and then we will send the state a letter).
• The new act extends the maturity date of the PPP loans—for any portion of a PPP loan that is not forgiven—from two years to five years. With respect to already existing PPP loans, the act states specifically that nothing in the act will “prohibit lenders and borrowers from mutually agreeing to modify the maturity terms of a covered loan.”
We’re excited about the changes to the PPP that will give us more time and options for the loans as well as extended forgiveness. We welcome any questions you have regarding the PPPFA.
As some employers and employees desire to return to work, it is important to remember that doing so will not likely look anything like it did previously in our pre COVID-19 world.
Governor Polis’ Safer at Home Executive Order D 2020 044 addresses worker rights and protections when returning to work. The directive states (in part):
I direct employers to accommodate workers with childcare responsibilities and workers who live in the same household as a Vulnerable Person to the greatest extent possible by promoting telecommuting or other remote work options, flexible schedules, or other means.
I direct the Colorado Civil Rights Division within the Department of Regulatory Agencies and CDPHE to provide guidance to prevent discrimination in the workplace related to COVID-19. Employers must provide reasonable accommodation and are prohibited from discriminating against employees who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been in contact with a known positive case of COVID-19.
All Critical Businesses should continue to operate with mandatory Social Distancing Requirements and cleaning protocols.
Beginning on May 4, 2020, I permit Non-Critical Commercial Businesses to allow up to fifty percent (50%) of their employees to conduct in-person work that takes place outside a private residence in accordance with Mandatory
Social Distancing Requirements and protocols.
This Executive Order shall expire thirty (30) days from April 27, 2020, unless extended further by Executive Order. The entire order can be accessed at:
Please review the following OSHA site for employer guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic:
The coronavirus outbreak has challenged all of us with taking a look at our business practices (to be fair, it has challenged us to look at everything!). Our collective goal is to continue serving all of our clients and to keep thriving internally as a business in a safe, smart, and healthy manner. We have taken the following steps to ensure service continuity:
1. All non-essential in-person meetings will be conducted via telephone or teleconference until further notice.
2. All internal staff members are prepared to and able to fully conduct all essential job functions from remote locations in the event of any personal or community quarantine.
3. All paychecks are being generated to direct deposit or paycard accounts, eliminating non-payment issues due to any shutdown or slow down of mail delivery service. Additionally any paper born contamination risk is eradicated.
4. Continuing to follow CDC guidelines for employers regarding the developing COVID-19 virus.
Thank you for your support and continued business while we all navigate this unusual time. We appreciate the opportunity to talk to our clients about their own business continuity strategies as well. Please contact us with any questions you may have about HR best practice.
It’s time as employers to take a proactive stance on how businesses should best prepare for a possibe COVID-19 outbreak. We recommend reviewing and implementing the CDC’s guidlines:
On Jan. 31, 2020, USCIS announced a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. This new version contains minor changes to the form and its instructions. Employers should begin using this updated form as of Jan. 31, 2020.
The notice provides employers additional time to make necessary updates and adjust their business processes. Employers may continue using the prior version of the form (Rev. 07/17/2017 N) until April 30, 2020. After that date, they can only use the new form with the 10/21/2019 version date. The version date is located in the lower left corner of the form.
USCIS made the following changes to the form and its instructions:
Revised the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the Issuing Authority field (when selecting a foreign passport) in Section 2 to add Eswatini and Macedonia, North per those countries’ recent name changes. (Note: This change is only visible when completing the fillable Form I-9 on a computer.)
Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer
Updated USCIS website addresses
Provided clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9
Updated the process for requesting paper Forms I-9
Updated the DHS Privacy Notice
A revised Spanish version of Form I-9 with a version date of 10/21/2019 is available for use in Puerto Rico only.