Podcast Episode 11

Episode details

Legal experts Ellen McCann and Daris Freeman break down state and municipal considerations when planning return-to-work amid the COVID-19 crisis. Many states are in the process of opening up for non-essential work and have issued some strict guidelines around how employers should go about bringing employees back. Certain cities and counties also have their own requirements. Be sure to do your homework – and check out the resources we link to below. 

  • Make sure you’re up to date with all the government mandates or requirements. States have various laws that will govern how you bring employees back. And don’t stop just to look at the state; certain cities and counties have their own requirements. [01:38]
  • Keep other considerations in mind. For example, the Warn Act requires employers to give certain notices to employees who are going to be laid off. There are state versions, as well. These laws have been changed in the face of COVID-19. [03:18]
  • Look at changes in the Workers Comp arena for essential businesses. [04:28]
  • What are the wage and hour requirements that will apply to you as you bring employees back? Are you obligated under state law to pay for personal protective equipment? Are you obligated to pay employees to do health screenings at home or when they get to your worksite? Know the wage and hour implications. [04:59]
  • Several states and individual jurisdictions have passed leave laws specific to COVID-19. Many are in response to what happened at a federal level — for example, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose passed laws related to larger employers not subject to the new federal law. Some are specific to certain industries. [06:31]
  • Many of the states that have existing paid sick laws have issued guidance or amended existing laws — for unpaid leave as well as paid sick leave. That guidance provides additional leave that was not provided before. Employers need to look into these laws and know how they can be applied. [08:02]
  • Unum has state leave law updates on our website. Law firms are also putting up free summaries. Ellen McCann references the resources that the law firm Littler Mendelson has created for employers, viewable here. [09:41]

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COVID-19 resource center

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Ellen McCann headshot

Ellen McCann

Assistant Vice President, Leave Solutions — Unum Group

Ellen McCann serves as a leading expert in applying benefits and benefits technology to power modern solutions to more effective employee leave programs, stronger regulatory compliance and enhanced digital HR transformation. In this role, she combines more than 30 years of employment law experience with practical knowledge of the complexities of leave and accommodation management to help develop and create solutions that enable employers to address the challenges of leave and accommodations. She is an acclaimed national speaker on leave management issues including FMLA and ADA, and is a certified trainer for SHRM and CE credit.

Daris Freeman headshot

Daris Freeman

Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel, Unum's employment law group

As Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel for Unum, Daris’ primary responsibility is to support Unum’s Absence Management Center which administers FMLA, paid leave, ADA and over 200 complementary state laws. Daris partners with the operation and their clients to develop compliant solutions for their unique absence management challenges. Most recently, her time has been dedicated to the paid leave landscape, implementing solutions for customers and working with state agencies on development of their programs.

About the host

Clare Morin headshot

Clare Morin

Unum Content Marketing Manager

Clare Morin is the Content Marketing Manager at Unum and a journalist who’s spent the last 20 years interviewing hundreds of thought leaders on topics ranging from wellness to culture, finance, human resources and technology. Born in the UK, raised in Hong Kong and based in the U.S. since 2009, she brings a global outlook to the HR Trends studio.

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