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.
The department continued its efforts to keep America’s workers safe, support states and territories as they deliver unemployment benefits to eligible individuals, and ensure all workers have access to new paid leave benefits. By the end of the week, 48 states and territories were providing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s enhanced $600 additional weekly benefit. The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continued its efforts to enforce workplace protection laws and provide clear guidance to employers on how to protect workers from the coronavirus. Its Wage and Hour Division announced enforcement action resulting in back pay for an employee denied the paid sick leave entitled to him under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
During a call with state and local officials and stakeholders, U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia remarked, “There are reasons for optimism. This economic pause is short term, not caused by any fundamental economic weakness, but by a purposeful idling of economic activity. Last week, President Trump introduced a thoughtful blueprint for reopening our economy. That plan puts forward a disciplined, scientific approach for States and locales to reopen for business as it’s safe to do so. Together with the unprecedented relief bills signed by the President, the reopening plan helps position us to regain our economic footing and start the return to normal life.”
Engaging Stakeholders Across the Globe and Here at Home:
- Secretary Scalia Participates in Call with the National Association of Counties – On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, Secretary Scalia, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) John Pallasch and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) Administrator Cheryl Stanton joined the National Association of Counties to provide an update to their members on the department’s resources and answer questions about the status of unemployment insurance and new paid leave benefits.
- U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia Joins Special G20 Meeting on COVID-19 – Secretary Scalia participated in a virtual meeting of the G20 Labor and Employment Ministers to discuss the G20 members’ labor and employment response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Secretary remarked in the meeting, “As we look forward, following this period of exceptional and essential government intervention, we in the States will bear in mind also the policies underlying the robust economy we have recently enjoyed. Those were policies that recognized the value of free markets and free people.”
- State and Local Officials and Stakeholders Call – Secretary Scalia, Assistant Secretary Pallasch, Administrator Cheryl Stanton and OSHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt participated in a call with state and local legislators and stakeholders to discuss the department’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert to Help Keep Construction Workers Safe during The Coronavirus Pandemic – OSHA issued an alert identifying workplace safety practices to help protect construction workers from exposure to coronavirus.
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Additional Respirator Guidance for Healthcare during The Coronavirus Pandemic – OSHA issued its fifth guidance document aimed at expanding availability of respirators as front line workers respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The latest interim guidance document outlines acceptable methods for decontaminating and reusing disposable N95 filtering face piece respirators.
- “In the call with State and Local Officials and Stakeholders Secretary Scalia stated, “When it comes to workplace safety, we want to provide guidance and clarity and help employers do the right thing. Most are working hard to do so. But we also know that unfortunately, enforcement may be needed in some cases. We have the tools we need and will use them if necessary.”
On Unemployment Insurance:
- Statement by Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia on Unemployment Insurance Claims – Secretary Scalia issued a statement regarding Unemployment Insurance claims, stating, “The Department of Labor is continuing to provide guidance and support to the States as they implement the enhanced unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.”
- Partnering with State Workforce Unemployment Insurance Directors – Secretary Scalia joined a call hosted by ETA with State Workforce Unemployment Insurance directors this week as 53 States and Territories have received more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in funding to upgrade their computer systems and add staff to manage the surge of claims.
Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave
- U.S. Department of Labor Ends Temporary Non-Enforcement of Paid Leave Protections to Help American Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic – The non-enforcement period allowed the department’s Wage and Hour Division to offer extensive guidance and education about the law’s requirements, which aided American workers and enabled employers covered by the new law to come into compliance as the nation continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
- Company to Pay Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave To Worker Whose Doctor Ordered Coronavirus Quarantine – A company will pay an employee for refusing to provide him sick leave under the newly passed Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act after healthcare providers ordered him to self-quarantine with potential coronavirus symptoms.
New Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act Frequently Asked Questions
- WARN FAQs – The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is enforced by private legal action in the applicable U.S. District Court. The role of the U.S. Department of Labor is to provide guidance and information about the WARN Act; however, such guidance is not binding in the courts and does not replace the advice of an attorney.
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.