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 pandemic.
Reopening the American Economy:
- Presidential Visit to Arizona – Secretary Scalia joined President Trump for a trip to Honeywell in Phoenix, Arizona. Honeywell is producing millions of N95 respirator masks to help America defeat the coronavirus.
- Statement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Scalia on the April Jobs Report – “Today’s report reflects the massive impact that measures to contain the coronavirus have had on the American workforce. This employment situation is exceptionally fluid. We know that today’s data reflect neither the additional layoffs that occurred in late April and early May, nor the employees beginning to return to work in some States. We also know that, by re-opening safely, we have the capacity to avoid permanent job losses for the overwhelming percent of Americans who, the report shows, currently view their job loss as temporary.”
Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:
- U.S. Department of Labor Offers New Video and Poster On Proper Workplace Use of Respirators – OSHA has released a new video and poster for employers and workers on how to properly wear and remove a respirator. For workers who may need to use respirators to protect themselves from coronavirus exposure, a properly worn respirator can help reduce the wearer’s risk of viral exposure and help prevent its spread to others.
- U.S. Department of Labor Publishes 11 New Translations of OSHA Poster To Help Prevent Workplace Coronavirus Exposure – OSHA has translated and published its “Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus” poster in 11 additional languages. The poster highlights 10 infection prevention measures every employer should implement to protect workers’ safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic.
Helping Unemployed Americans:
- U.S. Department of Labor Provides Additional Guidance and Assistance To States’ Unemployment Insurance Programs – Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John P. Pallasch said, “This important guidance provides states the flexibility they need to effectively and efficiently implement the unemployment insurance provisions of FFCRA and the CARES Act while maintaining strong program integrity.”
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Additional Guidance About Short-Time Compensation Program Provisions – This guidance concerns 100 percent federal reimbursement of certain state Short-Time Compensation (STC) payments, as well as other changes to STC programs. The STC program, also known as “work-sharing” or “shared work,” can play a key role in bringing Americans back into the workplace by allowing an employer, under a state-approved plan, to bring employees back to work at reduced hours while allowing them to maintain unemployment benefits at a reduced level. Employees are then eligible (to the same extent as other employees not participating in the STC program) to have health benefits and retirement benefits. By re-establishing the employees’ jobs and employers’ workforces and maintaining partial UI benefits for the worker, this program can be instrumental in reopening the economy and helping unemployed workers reenter the workforce.
- U.S. Department of Labor Provides Additional Guidance to States On the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program – This guidance responds to several specific inquiries and questions raised by states regarding the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, which provides an additional $600 weekly payment to unemployment insurance recipients.
Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave
- The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) added new frequently asked questions as they wrapped up April’s activity connected to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that included completing more than 400 cases and offering more than 300 outreach events to help educate employers and workers about the new paid leave provisions.
- In Hawaii, WHD resolved a situation where a Certified Public Accountant’s office failed to provide paid family leave to an eligible employee to care for her child whose school was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The employer remedied the situation, provided the leave, and agreed to comply with all requirements of the FFCRA going forward.
- In New Jersey, WHD resolved another situation where a worker was denied leave when her child’s daycare was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The employee is a single parent with no other options for childcare. WHD secured an agreement to provide the leave, and the worker received payment for her time away from work under the FFCRA.
- This coming week, the Wage and Hour Division will highlight actions enforcing paid leave rights of employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as well as an action that enforces the pay and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which will result in back wages for thousands of employees.
Helping Dislocated Workers
- U.S. Department of Labor Awards Over $10 Million in Dislocated Worker Grants in Response to the Coronavirus Public Health Emergency – “As we look to thoughtfully reopen our economy, a central challenge will be to fight back the virus and assist unemployed Americans in finding jobs and getting back to work,” stated Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John P. Pallasch. “The latest wave of Dislocated Worked Grant funding places eligible individuals into roles where they can help their communities address the effects of the virus.”
- U.S. Department of Labor Provides Additional Flexibility for Dislocated Worker Grants, Allowing Awardees to Use Funds for Contact Tracing – The department announced that Dislocated Worker Grant funding made available to states and territories to employ workers temporarily to respond to the coronavirus public health emergency can be used for contact tracing. Contact tracing is part of the process of supporting patients and warning contacts of exposure to stop chains of transmission.
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.