COVID-19 Information

 

PAYROLL DYNAMICS' "WORK FROM HOME" PROTOCOL INITIATED

Starting March 16th, we began instituting our “Work From Home” protocol.

Working From Home

Employees working remotely are setup with secure remote access to all necessary applications and are fully equipped with everything they need to work from home. Our office will remain open for business, with a limited “skeleton crew” on the premises, unless we have a quarantine mandate from local government.


Contacting Payroll Dynamics

You may easily contact your client account manager during this “work from home” period. We encourage you to use email when you can, as it is the best form of communication.


Here is a list of emails to use:

Support Questions: support@payrolldynamics.com

Payroll & Data Processing: processing@payrolldynamics.com

Tax & Finance: accounting@payrolldynamics.com


Also, please make sure you know your account manager’s direct dial number. That number is always listed in the signature line of their emails. If you call the main line, or a direct dial, and reach voicemail, please leave a message and you will receive a call back as soon as possible.

How to Prepare for Potential Interruptions of Your Payroll


Until notified otherwise, our Fusion Timekeeping, HR and Payroll platform will be operating and supported normally. One possible interruption is the inability for us to deliver live payroll checks, as we rely on outside delivery services. You can take precautions to prevent this from effecting your business. 
The options outlined below are some of the possible steps you should consider ASAP.

  • Convert all your employees to direct deposit or payroll debit cards. 

  • Request blank check stock (no account numbers are printed on blank stock). We will email pay stubs in a PDF file ready to print to most printers.

  • Receive net check amounts via payroll reports and write “manual” checks to employees or pay them cash.

Remote Timekeeping
If you too are considering, or have instituted a remote work option for your employees and are in need of web or mobile time tracking, please let us know as soon as possible. 

 
 

EEOC GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS DURING A PANDEMIC

The spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has employers rightly concerned about how to handle threats of contagion in the workplace. Along with those worries come concerns about violating other laws in the process of trying to keep the workplace safe. Specifically, the ADA comes to mind; if we send someone home who appears sick, have we then discriminated against someone with a disability? Thankfully, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has answered a number of common questions that employers are asking. We've pulled out those we think are most relevant, below, but the full EEOC Pandemic Preparedness webpage can be found here. 

 

As of March 11, 2020, COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic.

FROM THE EEOC:

The following questions and answers discuss employer actions when the WHO and the CDC report an influenza pandemic.

  • May an ADA-covered employer send employees home if they display influenza-like symptoms during a pandemic?

 

Yes. The CDC states that employees who become ill with symptoms of influenza-like illness at work during a pandemic should leave the workplace. Advising such workers to go home is not a disability-related action if the illness is akin to seasonal influenza or the 2009 spring/summer H1N1 virus. Additionally, the action would be permitted under the ADA if the illness were serious enough to pose a direct threat.

 

  • During a pandemic, how much information may an ADA-covered employer request from employees who report feeling ill at work or who call in sick?

 

ADA-covered employers may ask such employees if they are experiencing influenza-like symptoms, such as fever or chills and a cough or sore throat. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.

If pandemic influenza is like seasonal influenza or spring/summer 2009 H1N1, these inquiries are not disability-related. If pandemic influenza becomes severe, the inquiries, even if disability-related, are justified by a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that the severe form of pandemic influenza poses a direct threat.

 

  • During a pandemic, may an ADA-covered employer take its employees’ temperatures to determine whether they have a fever?

 

Generally, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. If pandemic influenza symptoms become more severe than the seasonal flu or the H1N1 virus in the spring/summer of 2009, or if pandemic influenza becomes widespread in the community as assessed by state or local health authorities or the CDC, then employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with influenza, including the 2009 H1N1 virus, do not have a fever.

 

  • When an employee returns from travel during a pandemic, must an employer wait until the employee develops influenza symptoms to ask questions about exposure to pandemic influenza during the trip?

 

No. These would not be disability-related inquiries. If the CDC or state or local public health officials recommend that people who visit specified locations remain at home for several days until it is clear they do not have pandemic influenza symptoms, an employer may ask whether employees are returning from these locations, even if the travel was personal.(31)

 

  • May an employer encourage employees to telework (i.e., work from an alternative location such as home) as an infection-control strategy during a pandemic?

 

Yes. Telework is an effective infection-control strategy that is also familiar to ADA-covered employers as a reasonable accommodation.(35)

 

In addition, employees with disabilities that put them at high risk for complications of pandemic influenza may request telework as a reasonable accommodation to reduce their chances of infection during a pandemic.

 

  • During a pandemic, may an employer require its employees to adopt infection-control practices, such as regular hand washing, at the workplace?

 

Yes. Requiring infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal, does not implicate the ADA.

 

  • During a pandemic, may an employer require its employees to wear personal protective equipment (e.g., face masks, gloves, or gowns) designed to reduce the transmission of pandemic infection?

Yes. An employer may require employees to wear personal protective equipment during a pandemic. However, where an employee with a disability needs a related reasonable accommodation under the ADA (e.g., non-latex gloves, or gowns designed for individuals who use wheelchairs), the employer should provide these, absent undue hardship.

 

  • During a pandemic, may an employer ask an employee why he or she has been absent from work if the employer suspects it is for a medical reason?

Yes. Asking why an individual did not report to work is not a disability-related inquiry. An employer is always entitled to know why an employee has not reported for work.

 

  • May an ADA-covered employer require employees who have been away from the workplace during a pandemic to provide a doctor’s note certifying fitness to return to work

 

Yes. Such inquiries are permitted under the ADA either because they would not be disability-related or, if the pandemic influenza were truly severe, they would be justified under the ADA standards for disability-related inquiries of employees.

 

As a practical matter, however, doctors and other health care professionals may be too busy during and immediately after a pandemic outbreak to provide fitness-for-duty documentation. Therefore, new approaches may be necessary, such as reliance on local clinics to provide a form, a stamp, or an e-mail to certify that an individual does not have the pandemic virus.

COVID-19 AND YOUR WORKPLACE - FEDERAL LAW ALERT

The last month has been interesting, dramatic, and stressful as the country has taken small and large measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Employers nationwide are struggling with how to deal with these changes. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions as well as links to several resources that employers may find helpful. 

What am I obligated to do, legally?
There aren’t any universal employer responsibilities that crop up as soon as something is declared a pandemic. That said, pay attention to federal, state, and local authorities to see if they are rolling out benefits or prohibitions that you need to be aware of. For instance, Colorado passed an emergency paid sick leave rule for certain employees, and Oregon has banned all gatherings larger than 250 people, both of which may affect employers directly.

What should we be doing to reduce risk?
These are fairly common-sense answers, but they bear repeating:

  • Post signs about handwashing

  • Provide hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes around the office

  • Assign someone (or yourself) to periodically wipe down frequently touched surfaces

  • Cancel non-essential in-person gatherings

  • Make meetings virtual, or if that’s not feasible, hold them in a larger space than generally necessary for the size of the group

  • Stop or limit business travel

  • Send sick employees home (check for state reporting time pay requirements)

  • Encourage employees to stay home if they don’t feel well

  • Bonus risk reduction: even if an employee doesn’t have accrued paid sick leave, provide it. An employee is much more likely to stay home when sick if they know they won’t lose income.

  • Bonus risk reduction: encourage employees who have work that can be done remotely to work from home, even if they feel fine. Working from home was becoming significantly more common (and a requirement of some jobseekers) prior to COVID-19, and now is a perfect time to give it a test drive if you haven’t already.

 

Can we send employees home if they are symptomatic?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised employers that employees who appear to have symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath) should be separated from other employees and sent home immediately. If the employee feels well enough to work, consider whether they can effectively telecommute.
 
Note: Non-exempt employees may be entitled to a few extra hours of pay if you’re in a state with reporting time pay, but this cost will be well worth it to maintain the safety of the workplace. You can check for state law by searching for reporting time pay <your state> on the HR Support Center.

What if my employee discloses that their family member or roommate has COVID-19?
Our recommendation is to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Employers should ask employees who live with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 to notify a designated HR representative or their supervisor as soon as possible. The employer and employee should then refer to CDC guidance to assess risk and determine next steps—see Tables 1 and 2 in the CDC’s Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management. If the employee is able to work from home, you may require that they do so. 

Do any leaves apply?
Whether FMLA or a state family and medical leave or insurance program will apply to a particular case of COVID-19 will be fact-specific. Even if FMLA or state leaves do not apply, though, we would recommend that employers treat leaves related to this illness as job-protected, both for legal reasons and because it’s the right thing to do. If you’re in a state with a sick leave law, that will apply if the employee is sick, a family member is sick, or (in many states) when an employee is told to stay home by a public health authority.

What if I have a fearful employee who refuses to come to work?
You should be prepared for employees who express anxiety about coming to work and evaluate any request on a case-by-case basis. Consider alternative arrangements such as working from home. It may be that they are most concerned about using public transit, in which case you may be able to find (and possibly pay for) an alternative. If their concern is a crowded workplace, perhaps you can change their hours.

If the nature of the employee’s job doesn’t allow for working from home, and there is no reason to believe that coming to work poses a real threat, reiterate the steps they can take to keep themselves safe from contracting the virus and explain the proactive steps you are taking to keep infection risk low in the workplace.

Employees who are immunocompromised or have other relevant disabilities may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, such as working from home or taking a leave if working from home is not possible.

How do I make a work from home policy?
Although some employers will be comfortable sending everyone home with their laptop and saying, go forth and be productive, most will want to be a little more specific. A good work from home policy will generally address productivity standards, hours of work, how and when employees should be in contact with their manager or subordinates, and office expenses.

For instance, your policy might require that employees are available by phone and messaging app during their regular in-office hours, that they meet all deadlines and maintain client contacts per usual, and that they check in with their manager at the close of each workday to report what they have accomplished. Be sure to let employees know whom to contact if they run into technical difficulties at home.

You’ll also want to specify how expenses related to working from home will be dealt with. If you don’t expect there to be any additional expenses involved, communicate this. You don’t want employees thinking this is their chance to purchase a standing desk and fancy ergonomic chair on your dime. That said, you should consider whether employees will incur reasonable and necessary expenses while working from home. Some states mandate reimbursement for these kinds of expenses, but it’s a good practice to cover such costs even if it’s not required by law.


 

 

WHEN BUSINESS THREATS ARE CONTAGIOUS: 10 ANSWERS FOR EMPLOYERS NAVIGATING THE CORONAVIRUS

The last month has been interesting, dramatic, and stressful as the country has taken small and large measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Employers nationwide are struggling with how to deal with these changes. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions as well as links to several resources that employers may find helpful. 

What am I obligated to do, legally?
There aren’t any universal employer responsibilities that crop up as soon as something is declared a pandemic. That said, pay attention to federal, state, and local authorities to see if they are rolling out benefits or prohibitions that you need to be aware of. For instance, Colorado passed an emergency paid sick leave rule for certain employees, and Oregon has banned all gatherings larger than 250 people, both of which may affect employers directly.

What should we be doing to reduce risk?
These are fairly common-sense answers, but they bear repeating:

  • Post signs about handwashing

  • Provide hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes around the office

  • Assign someone (or yourself) to periodically wipe down frequently touched surfaces

  • Cancel non-essential in-person gatherings

  • Make meetings virtual, or if that’s not feasible, hold them in a larger space than generally necessary for the size of the group

  • Stop or limit business travel

  • Send sick employees home (check for state reporting time pay requirements)

  • Encourage employees to stay home if they don’t feel well

  • Bonus risk reduction: even if an employee doesn’t have accrued paid sick leave, provide it. An employee is much more likely to stay home when sick if they know they won’t lose income.

  • Bonus risk reduction: encourage employees who have work that can be done remotely to work from home, even if they feel fine. Working from home was becoming significantly more common (and a requirement of some jobseekers) prior to COVID-19, and now is a perfect time to give it a test drive if you haven’t already.

 

Can we send employees home if they are symptomatic?
 

Employers are facing an unprecedented challenge navigating COVID-19. As the virus spreads, it is generating fear and uncertainty. Employers need clear answers they can trust. They want to know how they can protect their employees, what their obligations are under the law, and what steps they may need to take if the situation gets worse. We've put together this FAQ in the hope that it helps you manage this challenge and adapt to the circumstances ahead.

1. Can employees refuse to travel to areas considered safe?

You can require employees to travel as long as you meet your general duty under OSHA to provide a workplace (including any travel location) that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.

To ensure that you are not subjecting an employee to excessive risk, check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country where the employee is traveling. 

Perhaps more important than whether you can force an employee to travel is whether you should. Requiring a fearful employee to travel will erode trust and confidence and likely cause them significant anxiety. Consider video calls or videoconferencing as an (inexpensive!) alternative to traveling for the next few weeks or months.

Also keep in mind that employees who are immunocompromised or have other relevant disabilities may be entitled to an accommodation (such as not traveling, given current conditions) under the ADA.

2. Can we send employees home if they are symptomatic?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised employers that employees who appear to have symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) should be separated from other employees and sent home immediately. If the employee feels well enough to work, consider whether they can effectively telecommute. 

Note: Non-exempt employees may be entitled to a few extra hours of pay if you’re in a state with reporting time pay, but this cost will be well worth it to maintain the safety of the workplace. 

3. What if my employee discloses that their family member or roommate has COVID-19?

Our recommendation is to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Employers should ask employees who live with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 to notify a designated HR representative or their supervisor as soon as possible. The employer and employee should then refer to CDC guidance to assess risk and determine next steps—see Tables 1 and 2 in the CDC’s Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management.

4. Do any leaves apply? 

Whether FMLA or a state family and medical leave or insurance program will apply to a particular case of COVID-19 will be fact-specific. Even if FMLA or state leaves do not apply, though, we would recommend that employers treat leaves related to this illness as job-protected, both for legal reasons and because it’s the right thing to do. If you’re in a state with a sick leave law, that will apply if the employee is sick, a family member is sick, or (in many states) when an employee is told to stay home by a public health authority.

5. If an employee is out of the office due to sickness, can we ask them about their symptoms?

Yes, but there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. In most circumstances, employers shouldn’t ask about an employee’s symptoms, as that could be construed as a disability-related inquiry. Under the circumstances, however—and in line with an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace—we recommend asking specifically about the symptoms of COVID-19 and making it clear that this is the extent of the information you’re looking for.

Here’s a suggested communication: “Thank you for staying home while sick. In the interest of keeping all employees as safe as possible, we’d like to know if you are having any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Are you experiencing a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath?”

Remember that medical information must be kept confidential as required by the ADA. If the employee does reveal that they have symptoms of COVID-19, or has a confirmed case, you should see the CDC’s Interim Guidance to determine next steps. Tables 1 and 2 will help you assess risk and determine what steps, if any, should be taken. 

6. What if I have a fearful employee who refuses to come to work?

Generally, employees do not have a right to refuse to work based only on a generalized fear of becoming ill. If their fear is not based on objective evidence of possible exposure, you can enforce your attendance policies.

You should be prepared for employees who express anxiety about coming to work and evaluate any request on a case-by-case basis. Consider alternative arrangements such as telecommuting if possible. Employees who are immunocompromised or have other relevant disabilities may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation, such as working from home or taking a leave if working from home is not possible.

If the nature of the employee’s position does not allow telecommuting, and there is no legitimate threat, reiterate the steps they can take to keep themselves safe from contracting the virus and explain the proactive steps you are taking to keep infection risk low in the workplace.

7. Can we require or allow certain groups of employees, but not others, to work from home?

Yes. Employers may offer different benefits or terms of employment to different groups of employees as long as the distinction is based on non-discriminatory criteria. For instance, a telecommuting option or requirement can be based on the type of work performed, employee classification (exempt v. non-exempt), or location of the office or the employee. Employers should be able to support the business justification for allowing or requiring certain groups to telecommute.

8. How do I make a telecommuting policy? 

Although some employers will be comfortable sending everyone home with their laptop and saying, go forth and be productive, most will want to be a little more specific. A good telecommuting policy will generally address productivity standards, hours of work, how and when employees should be in contact with their manager or subordinates, and office expenses.

For instance, your policy might require that employees are available by phone and messaging app during their regular in-office hours, that they meet all deadlines and maintain client contacts per usual, and that they check in with their manager at the close of each workday to report what they have accomplished. Be sure to let employees know whom to contact if they run into technical difficulties at home.

You’ll also want to specify how expenses related to working from home will be dealt with. If you don’t expect there to be any additional expenses involved, communicate this. You don’t want employees thinking this is their chance to purchase a standing desk and fancy ergonomic chair on your dime. That said, you should consider whether employees will incur reasonable and necessary expenses while working from home. Some states mandate reimbursement for these kinds of expenses, but it’s a good practice to cover such costs even if it’s not required by law.

9. If we choose to close temporarily, do we need to pay employees?

It depends on the employee’s classification.

Non-exempt employees only need to be paid only for actual hours worked. For these employees, you may:

Pay the employee for the time, even though they did not work;
Require they take the time off unpaid;
Require they use any available vacation time or PTO; or
Allow employees to choose between taking an unpaid day or using vacation or PTO.
All four options are compliant with state and federal law. We generally recommend option 4—allowing but not requiring employees to use vacation time or PTO. If your office is required to close by health authorities and your state has a sick leave law, employees may be able to use accrued paid sick leave during the closure.

Exempt employees must be paid their regular salary unless the office is closed for an entire workweek and they do no work at all from home. You can, however, require them to use accrued vacation or PTO during a closure if you have a policy that indicates you will do so, or if this has been your past practice. When it comes to accrued vacation or PTO, it is safest to give employees advance notice if there are situations where you will use their accrued hours whether they like it or not.

10. If we close temporarily, will employees be able to file for unemployment insurance?

Depending on the length of the closure, employees may be able to file for unemployment insurance. Waiting periods range from 1-3 weeks and are determined by state law. Be prepared to respond to requests for verification or information from the state UI department if you close for longer than the mandatory waiting period.

 

CREATING A WORK FROM HOME POLICY FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Employees are permitted to work from home (WFH) occasionally or regularly, depending on a number of factors and the arrangements they've made with their manager. Working from home is a privilege that may be revoked at any time. The Company may request that an employee be present in the office at any time (regardless of scheduled WFH time) or deny a request to work from home based on business needs, employee performance, or viability of doing the work from home. To be eligible to WFH, an employee must have access to reliable internet and a space that is free from excessive noise or distraction.

Submitting Requests
Employees must enter their remote work request in [website/calendar/team communication tool] and notify appropriate team members. Requests for recurring or extended WFH arrangements will be considered after [3, 6, 12 months] of employment, or in the case of a public health emergency.

Employees wishing to request additional remote workdays in any given workweek are required to speak with their manager in advance for approval. If approved, the employee must enter the request in [website/calendar/team communication tool] and notify appropriate team members.

 

 

Costs
The Company will supply the employee with appropriate office supplies and reimburse the employee for all other reasonable business-related expenses. Employees must get pre-approval for expenses associated with working from home if they are more than $40 in total. Any equipment supplied by the Company is to be used for business purposes only, unless otherwise specified. Employees must take appropriate action to protect these items from damage or theft. 

The Company is not responsible for costs associated with initial setup of the employee's home office such as remodeling, furniture or lighting, or for repairs or modifications to the home office space. 

Security
As with employees working in the office, those who WFH will be expected to ensure the protection of proprietary Company and customer information through use of locking doors, desks, file cabinets, and media storage, regular password maintenance, and any other steps appropriate for the job and the environment. Unless you live alone, computers should be locked when you walk away and other household members should be not allowed access to or use of Company property.

Expectations
When working from home employees must:

  • Work their full, typical schedule

  • Attend all meetings in a virtual capacity

  • Achieve the same level of production as in the office

  • Maintain equivalent availability for colleague and client communication, supervisor questions, etc.

  • Be available online and by phone for the duration of their usual workday, minus breaks and rest periods

  • Respond promptly to communication via messaging app, email, and phone

  • Take all required break and rest periods, as if they were in the office

  • Communicate consistently regarding their workload and status (break, lunch, working on a project, etc.)

  • Follow all company procedures and policies 

  • Refrain from using alcohol or illegal drugs

FORMS & LETTER TEMPLATES AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD

WORK FROM HOME AGREEMENT TEMPLATE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RECEIPT OF COMPANY PROPERTY & FINANCIAL OBLIGATION TEMPLATE FORM

SAMPLE COMMUNICATION TO EMPLOYEES

FURLOUGH (TEMPORARY LAYOFF) LETTER

 
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Blog

Payroll Dynamics, Inc.

35 Arkay Dr. Suite 200, Hauppauge, NY 11788

(631) 435-8700

info@payrolldynamics.com

Careers   |  Blog  |   Secure File Transfer  |  Shop