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:
- Roundtable with Industry Executives on Reopening – Secretary Scalia joined President Trump for a roundtable discussion on Friday to discuss how to safely reopen America’s workplaces. Secretary Scalia highlighted the Administration’s efforts to keep Americans on payroll, provide relief to individuals temporarily out of work, and offer guidance on making workplaces safe.
Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration Actions to Protect America’s Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic – This week, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt testified before the House Education and Labor Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee about OSHA’s role during the crisis. Sweatt said, “Throughout the ongoing pandemic, OSHA’s work is continuing uninterrupted. From conducting thousands of investigations to issuing critical guidance aimed at protecting workers in high-risk industries, OSHA is on the job protecting America’s workers against the coronavirus.”
- U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Issues Guidance to Help Construction Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic – OSHA has launched a webpage with coronavirus-related guidance for construction employers and workers. The guidance includes recommended actions to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert on Social Distancing To Keep Employees Safe at Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic – OSHA has issued an alert listing steps employers can follow to implement social distancing in the workplace and to help protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus.
Helping Unemployed Americans:
- U.S. Department of Labor Awards Nearly $24 Million in Dislocated Worker Grants in Response to the Coronavirus Public Health Emergency – Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch remarked, “These grants will be very helpful in mitigating the effects of the coronavirus on state workforces and ensuring they have the right resources to assist those affected by this pandemic. We continue to encourage states to leverage these funds to assist in contact tracing and other re-opening activities.” This latest award follows four previous waves of funding, bringing the total amount awarded to states and territories to $222,044,958.
Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave and Wages Earned
- U.S. Department of Labor Recovers $1.3 Million in Wages for 3,000 Employees After Restaurant Management Company Misses Payroll – The Wage and Hour Division found the restaurant management company missed payroll in March 2020, and by doing so, failed to pay $1.3 million in required minimum wage and overtime wages to 3,000 employees.
- New Mexico Human Services Department Pays Back Wages to Employee Denied Sick Leave Allowed by Coronavirus-Related Circumstances – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the New Mexico Human Services Department will pay $1,411 in back wages after initially refusing to provide paid sick leave to an employee who took leave to care for her three young children whose school closed due to coronavirus.
- Georgia Department of Human Services Pays Employee Denied Emergency Sick Leave Allowed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – The Wage and Hour Division determined that the Georgia Department of Human Services wrongly denied emergency paid sick leave to an employee who needed to miss work to care for a child whose school closed due to the coronavirus. As a result, the employer paid $848 in back wages as required under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
- Iowa Restaurant Pays Back Wages After Failing to Pay 14 Employees for Payroll Earned Before Coronavirus Closing – Investigators found a company violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act by not issuing payroll. The restaurant initially posted a sign telling employees and customers they had closed permanently, but later amended it to say they were closing temporarily due to the pandemic.
- Minnesota City Pays Back Wages to Employee Wrongly Denied Paid Sick Leave After Healthcare Provider Recommends Quarantine – Wage and Hour Division investigators found the municipality violated the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act when it denied the employee leave. The employee also requested time off under the Emergency Family Medical Leave Extension Act when her child’s care provider became unavailable due to coronavirus-related reasons. When advised of its obligations, the city agreed to pay the back wages.
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.