Below is a round-up of workplace compliance rules and regulations employers need to know to keep their business compliant. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.
Illinois COVID-19 State Regulations
Indiana COVID-19 State Regulations
Governor Eric Holcomb signed SB1 on February 18, 2021, providing COVID-19 liability protection to individuals and other “persons” defined as associations, institutions, corporations/companies, government entities, organizations, nonprofits, trusts, LLCs, and others. The protection also extends to any manufacturer or supplier of COVID-19-related products.
There are three situations the provide “persons” with liability protection, including on a location owned or operated by the person, any location where the person provided services or property to another person, or during an activity that the person managed, organized, or sponsored. The exception is any case where there was negligence or intentional misconduct.
This legislation is retroactive to March 1, 2020 and effective until December 31, 2024.
Face Covering Mandate
During Stage 1, everyone is strongly encouraged to wear face masks when in public, including public transportation. requires employees must wear face coverings and considering requiring customers to do the same. Retail businesses should require employees to wear face coverings and consider requiring customers to do the same. All restaurants and personal care services, like hair and nail salons, should have employees and staff wear face coverings.
During Stage 2, the public is strongly encouraged to wear cloth face coverings on public transportation. All restaurant staff and employees must wear face coverings. Additionally, it is strongly recommended that everyone participating in real estate showings should wear a face covering.
See Executive Order 2020-26 for more information.
Update 9/25/20: Executive Order 20-43 continues the mandate that face coverings be worn during Stage 5 of the Back On Track Indiana plan. This Order is effective September 26, 2020, to October 17, 2020.
Update 7/24/20: Executive Order 2020-37 was issued to require all residents wear a face covering effective July 27, 2020, to August 26, 2020. Everyone 8 years or older must wear a face covering in all indoor and outdoor spaces whenever social distancing requirements can’t be met.
Iowa COVID-19 State Regulations
Face Covering Mandate Ends Feb. 7
Governor Kim Reynolds lifted the state’s face mask mandate under a new proclamation, effective February 7, 2021. It continues to encourage residents, businesses, and other organizations to take reasonable precautions that algin with the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The proclamation also lifts the limit on gatherings and allows restaurants and bars to conduct business at 100% capacity.
Local jurisdictions may implement their own requirements and it should be noted that several cities have stricter requirements in place.
What should you do?
Businesses should check their local area requirements and ensure their policies and procedures align with all federal, state, and local rules.
Proclamation of Disaster Emergency (February 5, 2021)
Proclamation (November 16, 2020)
Liability Protections for Businesses, Medical Facilities, Certain Nonprofits, and Nursing Homes
Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law to protect businesses, nonprofits like schools or churches, nursing homes, and medical facilities from lawsuits related to COVID-19.
The law creates a higher bar for individuals bringing civil actions related to alleged COVID-19 exposure. A plaintiff must be able to show “actual injury” under the law, or one of three things: 1) that the organization intended to cause harm, 2) acted out of malice, or 3) that the plaintiff was hospitalized due to or died from COVID-19.
The law also provides that the business or person won’t be held liable for civil damages if their actions were substantially compliant or consistent with federal and state regulations, orders, or public health guidance related to COVID-19.
Kansas COVID-19 State Regulations
Updated 4/2/21: Liability Protections Related to COVID-19 Claims Extended through 2022
Update 4/2/21: Governor Kelly signed SB 283 which extends COVID-19-related liability protections to certain health care providers, medical care facilities, and anyone conducting business through March 31, 2022.
Governor Kelly signed into law liability protections related to COVID-19 claims for health care providers, COVID-19-related product manufacturers and sellers, adult care facilities, and any business acting in majority compliance with COVID-19 public health directives. All federal and state statues need to be followed along with any order or proclamation issued by Kansas.
These protections apply retroactively on March 12, 2020, and expire on January 26, 2020, for any cause of action.
11/25/20: Face Covering Mandate
Beginning November 25, 2020, everyone in Kansas must wear a face covering when they are inside or in line to enter an indoor space, obtaining any health care services, waiting for or riding on public transportation or rideshare service, and in outdoor public spaces where social distancing requirements can’t be maintained.
Businesses must require all customers, employees, visitors, members to wear a face covering when:
- Employees are working in any space that is visited by customers or the public, regardless of if there is anyone else present in the space.
- Employees are working in a food preparation or packaging space.
- Customers, visitors, or other members of the public are inside the facility.
- Employees are inside where others are present and can’t maintain social distancing requirements.
There are exemptions to this mandate that can be found on page 3 of the order.
Michigan HR and Workplace Compliance Rules and Regulations
Effective Immediately: Scheduled Minimum Wage Increase Not To Take Effect
Who: All Michigan employers
When: Released December 11, 2020
What: The Wage and Hour Division of the Michigan Bureau of Employment Relations announced that the state’s scheduled minimum wage increase will not likely go into effect on January 1, 2021. Existing law prohibits minimum wage increases to take when the state’s annual unemployment rate for the preceding calendar year is above 8.5%.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Department of Labor) calculates the state’s unemployment rate, and it is expected that it will exceed the 8.5% threshold. If so, minimum wage will remain the same as 2020 for the whole of 2021:
- $9.65 an hour
- $8.20 an hour for minors age 16 and 17
- $3.67 an hour for tipped employees
- $4.25 an hour for newly hired employees ages 16 to 19 for the first 90 days of employment
- Watch for new announcements about minimum wage to determine whether or not the increase will take effect.
- Revise payroll rates and processes that took the increase into account, as needed.
Michigan COVID-19 State Regulations
Update 4/15/21: Michigan DHHS and OSHA Issue Emergency COVID-19 Workplace Rules
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) adopted an Emergency Rule of workplace guidelines for businesses and employees to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Update 4/15/21: On April 13, 2021, the MIOSH Emergency COVID-19 Workplace Rules were extended for another six months by Governor Whitmer. The Emergency Rules were originally set to expire on April 14, 2021, but will now remain in place through October 14, 2021.
Update 11/4/20: MIOSHA released COVID-19 Interim Enforcement Guidance to establish policies and procedures for inspections related to COVID-19. Inspections may be done over the phone but on-site inspections will be conducted by the agency’s industrial hygienists. Employers could receive violations for PPE, respiratory protection, sanitation, and recordkeeping and reporting rules.
Employers must develop and implement a written exposure control plan that includes:
- Engineering and administrative controls
- Basic infection prevention measures
- Personal protective equipment
- Health monitoring
When employers make changes to the control plan or when there is new information, they must provide updated training to employees. The training program should include:
- How employees must notify their employer of any COVID-19 signs, symptoms, suspected or confirmed diagnosis.
- Infection-control procedures
- How to report any unsafe working conditions
In addition to requiring employee training, the Emergency Rule also requires that employers maintain records of all employee training, screening protocols for employees and visitors, and required notifications. All records must be kept for 1 year at the point they were generated.
Additionally, MIOSHA created a Hotline phone number to answer any questions about the guidelines. The number is 855-SAFEC19 (855-723-3219).
Effective for 6 months, with the potential for extension.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Emergency Order
This Emergency Rule adoption is in addition to an earlier emergency order MCL 333.2253 from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that:
- Limits social gatherings
- Mandates face coverings
- Restricts restaurants and bars, the latter may reopen indoor service where alcohol is only served to seated customers
- Organized sports
- Contact tracing for personal care services, athletic and entertainment facilities, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers
- Employee protections include face covering mandates within the workplace and prohibits any office work unless it’s critical to perform other job duties.
Any violation of the MDHHS order could face a civil fine of $1,000 per violation per day.
Effective until October 30, 2020.
5 News Laws Provide Liability Protections to Workers and Employers
On October 22, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed three bills into law to help protect employers and workers from liability claims.
HB 6030: Employer Protections
HB 6030 offers immunity to people and organizations (defined as individuals, businesses, government entities, educational institutions, and non-profits) from COVID-19-related claims, including tort liability, provided that they were in compliance with federal, state, and local laws, rules, orders, and regulations.
HB 6031: Employer Protections
This law amends the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act to provide liability immunity to an employer from a worker’s claim of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace, provided the employer was in compliance with federal, state, and local laws, rules, orders, and regulations at the time of the exposure.
HB 6101: Employer Liability
This law amends the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act to add a COVID-19 definition related to HB 6030, HB 6031, HB 6032 to protect employers from lawsuits related to an employee’s exposure to COVID-19, as long as the employer was in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws, rules, orders, and regulations at the time of the exposure.
HB 6032: Employee Protections
HB 6032 provides employee protections by asserting that employees who test positive for COVID-19 or show its main symptoms or have come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should not report to work until it is safe to do so and conditions are met, like isolation/quarantine time periods. The law also prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, or retaliating against a worker who complies with the rule above, reports a COVID-19-related health violation, or opposes an employer’s violation of this law.
Effective: These 4 laws are effective retroactively back to March 1, 2020.
HB 6159: Health Care Provider Protections
Also signed into law on October 22, 2020, HB 6159 provides liability protection to health care providers and health care facilities for injuries, including death, related to COVID-19 when providing health care services, unless the actions taken are willful misconduct, gross negligence, international misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm.
Effective: Retroactively on or after March 29, 2020 and before July 14, 2020
Face Covering Mandate
Update 4/22/21: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended and expanded the Gatherings and Face Mask Order. The Order is effective from April 19 through May 24, 2021. The expansion includes mask covering requirements for children ages 2 to 4, effective April 26, 2021. The agency also published a resource guide to summarize the current requirements: MDHHS Epidemic Order Effective April 19 Through May 24.
Update 3/2/21: On March 5, 2021, Emergency Order under MCL 333.2253 – Gatherings and Face Mask Order took effect. The order expands capacity limits to 50% indoor retail and dining, private gatherings are limited to 15 people, outdoor resident gatherings are limited to 50 people, different households may gather outdoors for up to 25 people, athletic and outdoor recreation gatherings that can seat 10,000 people are limited to 375 people, casinos and gyms are limited to 30% capacity. An FAQ was released to help answer questions about gatherings and capacity.
Update 11/1/20: Governor Whitmer issued an updated Gatherings and Face Mask Epidemic Order to limit gatherings and to require face coverings in any non-residential gathering. People in a residential gathering are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering. Employers must prohibit gatherings unless everyone is wearing a face covering. there are exceptions to the face covering mandate that can be found in section 7 of the Order. It’s acceptable for a visitor or customer to say they are not wearing a face covering because of one of the reasons listed under section 7. A one-page Social Gatherings Guide was issued to help clarify the Order. The MDHHS Epidemic order OCT. 29 Infographic, and MDHHS Epidemic order OCT. 29 Fact Sheet were both updated.
Update 10/13/20: Emergency Order Under MCL 333.2253 – Gathering Prohibition and Face Covering Order was issued to rescind Emergency Order Under MCL 333.2253. The current Emergency Order limits the number of people who may gather in an indoor or outdoor setting, and any businesses that requires employees to gather together for work must conduct daily self-screenings for all workers and contractors. Retail, libraries and museums should limit capacity to 50%. Social distancing and face coverings should continue to be used. Additionally, face coverings should be used by anyone gathering together, whether at work or other indoor gathering. Additional guidance and resources have been developed: MDHHS Epidemic Order OCT. 9 Fact Sheet and Infographic.
Executive Order 2020-147 went into effect on July 10, 2020 for residents, and for businesses on July 12, 2020. Residents are required to wear a face covering in all indoor places (outside of their residence), outdoor public places where social distancing requirements can’t be met, when waiting to use public transportation, and inside public transportation. Businesses may refuse service or entry onto business premises to anyone who is not wearing a face covering. Businesses are required to post a poster in the front entrances. Exemptions can be found starting on page 3 of the Order.
Update 1/5/21: Governor Whitmer signed SB 604 extending unemployment benefits for 26 weeks, until March 2021.
The unemployment benefits period will extend to 26 weeks. The legislation allows additional businesses to participate in the work-share program to employ people part-time and get paid through the state and removes the onus on these businesses to pay unemployment insurance if workers are laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting in 2021, unemployment will revert back to 20 weeks.
Retaliation Protections Expand
Who: Michigan businesses and employees
When: Effective immediately and continues until the end of the state’s state of emergency
What: Governor Gretchen Whitmer published an Executive Order barring employers from disciplining or terminating employees who are staying home because they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, have a COVID-19 positive test, or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive or displayed symptoms. These individuals should be treated as if they were taking leave under the Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act.
The order encourages people who display COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for the disease to stay home. These individuals should stay home for 3 days after their symptoms have disappeared and 7 days after their symptoms first appeared. Anyone who has come into close contact with another person that has COVID-19 or displays symptoms should stay home either for 14 days or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.
Please see the Executive Order for further information on the symptoms.
If employees do not have paid leave, they may take unpaid leave. The length of leave is not limited by the amount of leave accrued by an employee and should extend, regardless of whether its paid or unpaid, for the duration the employee is away from work for health scenarios described above.
Employers cannot take adverse action against an employee if the employee doesn’t provide documentation of any close contact with another person displaying symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19. They may take adverse action if the employee is allowed to return to work but refuses, if the employee gives consent, or other lawful reasons.
- Guide and help your employees as they request sick leave and educate them about their leave options as necessary
- Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
- If you are considering any adverse actions regarding an individual’s employment, be sure to seek legal counsel, to review and provide additional guidance.
Minnesota COVID-19 State Regulations
Face Covering Mandate
In Executive Order 20-81, Governor Tim Walz declared that as of July 25, 2020 everyone in the state is required to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in certain situations:
- Indoor businesses and public indoor spaces, including waiting outdoors to enter an indoor space. There are certain exceptions to this provision regarding living units and residential care services that businesses should review more closely on page 5 of the Executive Order.
- Public transportation or ridesharing.
- Outdoor work situations where social distance can’t be maintained.
- When industry guidance from Stay Safe Minnesota requires face coverings.
- Any business, public space, or venue has decided to require a face covering that isn’t otherwise included in Executive Order 20-81.
On page 6 of the Order, situations where face coverings may be temporarily removed are outlined in detail. Page 7 outlines when face coverings are strongly encouraged but not required.
Exemptions can be found on page 4 through 5of Executive Order 20-81.
The Minnesota Department of Health provided additional information about types of face coverings, exemptions, and requirements on Face Covering Requirements and Recommendations under Executive Order 20-81.
Employment Law Changes Considering COVID-19
Who: Minnesota employers and employees
When: Effective Immediately
Local and state governments have provided additional guidance when it comes to employment law. Below you will find some of the additional guidance in light of COVID-19:
Minneapolis Clarifies Sick and Safe Time Ordinance with an FAQ
Employees may use accrued sick and safe leave for absences related to testing, care or quarantine from COVID-19 symptoms or infection, quarantine due to close contact with another person who is symptomatic or tested positive, caring for family members whose school or child care was closed due to COVID-19, and workplaces that have closed by decree of a public official. Sick and Safe Time leave can only be used for scheduled shifts or shifts when an employee was expected to have worked if the business hadn’t been closed by a public official.
Sick and Safe Time leave can’t be used if an employer closes for any reason other than from the directive of a public official or an employee preemptively self-quarantines without reason to believe they’ve contracted the illness.
Duluth Clarifies Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance with an FAQ
Employees may use Sick and Safe Time leave for their own medical diagnosis, care, treatment, preventive care, or to care for a family member going through the above medical process.
Employers shouldn’t prevent employees from working because of travel.
Statewide Unemployment Compensation Expansion
Governor Tim Walz has softened the compliance rules for state unemployment and expands eligibility to people who:
Temporarily or permanently lost their job or had their hours reduced. This includes losing their jobs because they contracted COVID-19 or due to an employer’s actions because of COVID-19; experiencing a substantial reduction in hours (i.e. to less than 32 hours/week); or being furloughed.
Have been told by a health care professional to quarantine because of COVID-19.
Have been told by their employer to not come to work because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Have to care for their child because the child’s school, daycare, or other care provider has canceled provided that they attempted to make other reasonable accommodations and requested time off or other accommodations from their employer.
Applicants don’t have to wait a week in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits. They don’t have to search for work that poses a risk to their health or others. Employees who are temporarily out of work don’t need to look for work but must keep in touch with their employer during that time.
Employers may use the payment of paid time off, transition assistance, and bonuses as ways to delay or off-set unemployment benefits.
This is effective now through December 31, 2020.
Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Act Sends Reminder Bulletin to Employers
As a reminder, employers can’t retaliate against employees who report health and safety issues at work, including if an employee believes another coworker may be symptomatic or if there is a workplace practice the employee believes increases exposure.
If an employer needs to take disciplinary action against, or needs to reduce hours of, an employee that is unrelated to such a complaint, that must be made clear to the employee so as not to seem like the employer is retaliating.
Employers also can’t retaliate against employees who have contracted, or have been exposed to, COVID-19 and need to self-isolate at home, or employees who have to care for a family member who has contracted, or been exposed to, COVID-19.
Workers’ Compensation Related to COVID-19
Because showing that a worker contracted COVID-19 in the workplace can have a major impact on workers’ compensation laws, the Minnesota Department of Labor has laid out guidance about COVID-19-related workers’ compensation:
Health care professionals and emergency first responders don’t need to prove they contracted COVID-19 at work. It is assumed that these individuals are entitled to workers’ compensation.
Other employees will need to prove that they contracted the virus while at work.
Workers who haven’t contracted the virus but for other reasons are under quarantine aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA)
Employers must remain compliant with enforcing the Equal Employment Opportunity policies in this current environment. Employers should only make exclusionary decisions based on objective evidence of illness, exposure, or recent travel to high-risk areas. Employers must ensure that COVID-19 policies don’t violate anti-discrimination laws.
As a temporary illness, COVID-19 likely doesn’t initially qualify as a disability under the MHRA or American Disabilities Act (ADA). But if an individual is affected by COVID-19 to the point of disability, it may fall within the MHRA’s and/or ADA’s definition.
As you make decisions about your business and your employees, be sure to consult with legal counsel for the latest information and to ensure your decisions are compliant with the latest regulations.
Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.
Fitness Centers, Studios, and Gyms Guidance (September)
Missouri HR and Workplace Compliance Rules and Regulations
January 1: St. Louis Adopts a Ban the Box Law
Who: St. Louis, Missouri employers with 10 or more employees
When: Effective January 1, 2021
What: Starting January 1, 2021, Ordinance 71074 goes into effect for employers in St. Louis with 10 or more employees. This law, known as “Ban the Box,” encourages employers to consider applicants based on their skills and experience first, rather than their conviction history.
The law specifically prohibits employers from basing hiring or promotion decisions on an applicant’s criminal history, unless the employer can demonstrate that its decision was based on all available information, including frequency, recentness, and severity of the criminal history, and show that the history is reasonably related to the duties and responsibilities of the position. Employers may not seek information from the public about an applicant’s criminal history, nor ask about it on job applications. Lastly, employers are prohibited from posting jobs that exclude applicants due to their criminal history.
An employer may ask about criminal history after interviewing an applicant and deciding that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. The employer must ask for the same information from all applicants, however.
Violations of the ordinance may result in warnings or civil penalties, with the most severe penalty being revocation of the employer’s business license.
- Review your policies and procedures related to promotions, job postings, job applications, background checks, and interviews to ensure your compliance with the new law.
- Train HR personnel and all personnel who hire employees on the requirements of the new law and how you are changing your policies, procedures, and forms in response.
Missouri COVID-19 State Regulations
Nebraska COVID-19 State Regulations
NEW: Liability Protections for Businesses
Who: Businesses, health care providers, education institutions
When: Effective immediately and retroactive to January 1, 2020
What: On April 23, 2021, Governor Doug Burgum signed HB 1175 to protect covered organizations from civil liability related to COVID-19 and the death or injury of a person, unless the act or actions were willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intention to harm.
The bill also extends civil liability protections to anyone involved in the making or distribution of supplies that protect against COVID-19.
What Should You Do?
- Review your current policies and procedures and ensure they meet the latest government guidance and seek legal counsel as necessary.
Face Covering Mandate
Update 12/9/20: Executive Order 2020-08.1 was issued to extend the face mask mandate effective until January 18, 2021.
On November 13, 2020, Governor Doug Burgum issued Order #2020-08 to mandate the use of face masks at indoor businesses, indoor public places, as well outside if social distancing if social distancing requirements can’t be maintained.
Businesses are required to post at least one sign for all customers, visitors, and employees to wear a face covering when inside the facility.
There are exceptions to this order, that can be found on pages 2-3 of the Order. There are certain situations where masks may be temporarily removed, outlined on page 3.
North Dakota Face Mask Required Sign
COVID-19-Related Unemployment Must Seek Work
Governor Doug Burgum issued Executive Order 2020-08.2, effective July 26, 2020, to restore work registration and search requirements for residents seeking unemployment. Previously, the job search requirements were loosed during the first 3 months of the pandemic.
Those individuals currently receiving unemployment must register for work and conduct active job searches.
Ohio HR and Workplace Regulations
April 15: Ohio Reinstates Anti-Discrimination Law
Who: Ohio employers
When: Effective April 15, 2021
What: On December 22, 2020, the Ohio General Assembly passed reforms to R.C. Chapter 4112, the state’s employment discrimination statute. Ohio Governor Michael DeWine signed the reforms—known as the Employment Law Uniformity Act—into law on January 12, 2021. It goes into effect on April 15, 2021. The new law is intended to come into alignment with federal law and assist in the process of resolving discrimination claims in a timely, fair, and efficient manner.
The most important revisions that affect employers include:
- Employees must file a charge with Ohio Civil Rights Commission before suing under Chapter 4112.
- Subject to certain rules, employees who sue under Chapter 4112 must do so within two years.
- There are caps on compensatory and punitive damages in tort actions, which includes claims under Chapter 4112.
- Employees can sue managers or supervisors for damages under Chapter 4112 only in certain circumstances.
- Choices for remedies for age discrimination claims have been reduced and simplified.
- The affirmative defense for hostile work environment claims is now codified.
- Ensure that your policies are written so that you will take advantage of the federal affirmative defense codified in the new legislation.
- Train supervisors and managers on the limit of individual liability.
- If a claim arises, advise employees that they must file their complaint with the state’s Civil Rights Commission before they proceed with a civil lawsuit against you.
Ohio COVID-19 State Regulations
UPDATED 11/11/20: Face Covering Mandate
Update 11/11/20: Governor Mike DeWine reissued the face mask order on November 11, 2020, requiring all residents to wear a face mask. Businesses will be punished if they are found non-compliant. The new provisions include:
- Every business must post a face covering sign at all entrances.
- All businesses are responsible for employees and customers to wear a face covering.
- The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will be auditing businesses to ensure compliance.
- Businesses will be given a written warning for the first violation. Businesses will be closed for 24 hours if they receive a second violation.
The Director’s Order for Facial Covering for the State of Ohio is effective starting July 23, 2020. Everyone older than 10 years old must wear a mask indoors, other than their own residence, and outdoors whenever social distancing requirements can’t be met. All public transportation users are required to wear a face mask.
Exemptions can be found on pages 1-2 of the Director’s order.
UPDATED 11/28/20: Immunity Bill Signed into Law
Update 11/28/20: House Bill 151 was signed on November 23, 2020, by the Governor to include the civil liability to protect medical professionals in health care isolation centers. The new law also allows medical technicians to conduct certain emergency medical services.
HB 606 was signed into law to provide immunity from liability to non-profits, health care providers, schools, and for-profit businesses whose employees may have contributed to the injury, death, or loss related to the exposure or transmission of COVID-19.
A liability suit may only be brought if the claimant can establish that the business was reckless, or conducted intentional or willful or wanton misconduct.
The bill applies retroactively from March 9, 2020, through September 30, 2021.
All organizations are encouraged to seek legal counsel for guidance on potential liability areas and as the pandemic continues to evolve.
Employee Temperature Guidelines
Who: Ohio employers and employees
When: March 18, 2020
What: Governor Mike DeWine has asked all Ohio employers that remain open during the COVID-19 outbreak take their workers’ temperatures every day before work begins. If employees show a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher (or 99.6 and higher for elderly workers), they should be sent home.
This is not a regular practice or recommendation, as it could violate the American Disabilities Act (medical exams by employers are prohibited unless job-related and consistent), but during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance allowing the practice with employees and job applicants.
If employers use this practice, they and their employees should maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet apart while waiting to take their temperatures. A knowledgeable person, like a company nurse or trained HR professional, should be in attendance to correctly read and disinfect the thermometers. This person must take precautions to limit their potential exposure to any hazards, including but not limited to COVID-19. Precautions should include personal protective equipment (PPE) as outlined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Other considerations employers need to take into account:
Temperature readings should be kept private and treated as confidential information.
Non-exempt employees should be compensated for the time they wait in line to have their temperatures taken.
Employees may refuse to have their temperature taken.
Employees with an elevated temperature that are sent home are eligible for unemployment benefits. Depending on the size of the employer, the employee may also be eligible for paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Employers are also reminded that some employees with COVID-19 won’t have an elevated temperature and should keep an eye out for other symptoms of the virus.
Determine if your business would benefit from this new recommendation.
Build a strategy for how to implement these changes to your workforce. Consider everything from the logistics of thermometers, handling confidential information, and waiting in line with compensation, hazards, PPE, and how to send employees home.
Consult with legal counsel before implementing a temperature-taking program to ensure it complies with all federal and state laws.
Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
Unemployment Benefits and Workers Compensation
Who: Ohio employers and employees
When: March 16, 2020
Unemployment Benefits Expansion
Update 6/24/20: Under Executive Order 2020-24D, Governor DeWine expanded the term “good cause” regarding employees refusing to return to work. The term includes scenarios where an employee has a medical professional’s recommendation they not return to work because they are a “high risk” for contracting COVID-19, the employee is age 65 or older, there is clear evidence the employee isn’t allowed to practice social distancing, hygiene, or wear PPE, the person is currently in a medically recommended self-quarantine period, or the person must care for a family member who is in a medically recommended quarantine period.
Governor Mike DeWine issued an Executive Order to expand the unemployment system during Ohio’s state of emergency:
- Unemployed workers will include individuals who have been isolated or quarantined by a health care professional, health authority or employer, as a result of COVID-19 exposure or diagnosis (even if the worker isn’t diagnosed with COVID-19).
- Whether partially or totally unemployed, participants in the SharedWork Ohio Program won’t be required to follow the waiting period before receiving unemployment or SharedWork benefits.
- Benefits paid on unemployment claims related won’t be charged to the employer’s account but to the mutualized account, except reimbursing employers.
- Work search requirements are waived for employees that have been isolated or quarantined by a health care professional, health authority, or employer.
- Penalties and payments for late reporting are waived for employers affected by COVID-19.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has developed a mass layoff instruction sheet for employers to give to employees to help navigate their layoff as it relates to COVID-19.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation issued a Frequently Asked Questions document about workers’ compensation as it relates to COVID-19. Although employees can file a COVID-19-related claim, they have to meet 3 criteria:
- The virus was contracted while they were working.
- The virus was directly related to the person’s employment. The way the disease manifested, or the conditions of the person’s employment, resulted in the exposure to COVID-19.
- Their job created the risk of contracting the disease in a higher degree than in the general public.
- Consult with your legal counsel as you make decisions regarding employment.
- As you make employment changes, provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
- If you need to lay off employees, be sure to provide your employees with the instruction sheet from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
COVID-19 Update: New Responsible RestartOhio Opening Dates (May 14, 2020)
South Dakota COVID-19 State Regulations
NEW 2/18/21: COVID-19-Related Liability Protections
Governor Kristi Noem signed legislation on February 18, 2021, HB1046, that provides COVID-19-related liability protections for health care providers, individuals, businesses, and organizations, except in cases where there was intent to expose someone to the virus. The law states that COVID-19 is not an occupational disease under state law.
The law covers claims from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2022.
Wisconsin COVID-19 State Regulations
UPDATED 4/1/21: Face Covering Mandate Invalidated, Local Mandates Remain
Update 4/2/21: The state supreme court ruled that Governor Evers’ statewide mask mandate was invalid. Local mask mandates still remain, like for Dane County, Milwaukee.
Update 2/17/21: Executive Order #105 was issued on February 4, 2021, to extend the state’s public health emergency as well as Executive Order #1 to extend the indoor face covering mandate, everywhere except an individual’s private residence, until March 20, 2021. Additional resource: Wisconsin Face Covering FAQs.
Update 11/28/20: Emergency Order #1 Face Coverings (11-20-2020) is effective from November 20, 2020 to January 19, 2021. All residents ages 5 years and older are required to wear a face covering indoors or in an enclosed space or with people who aren’t part of their household, except in their place of residence. there are exceptions to this rule, outlined on pages 2-3 of the Emergency Order.
The Governor issued Emergency Order #1 to mandate all residents wear a face covering effective August 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020.
Face coverings are required indoors, except at home unless someone outside the household visits the residence, and outdoors where social distancing requirements can’t be met. Exemptions include children’ under 5 years of age as well as others that can been on starting on page 2 of the Order.
NEW 3/3/21: Liability Protections Extended to Employers with New Law
Who: Wisconsin employers and businesses (including government agencies, long-term care providers, retail, and education institutions)
When: Starting February 27, 2021, and retroactive to March 1, 2020
What: On February 26, 2021, Governor Evers signed legislation providing Wisconsin employers with civil liability protection for the death or injury of any individual or damages directly or indirectly because of COVID-19.
The exception to this protection is if the action or lack of action was because of reckless, wanton, or intentional misconduct.
As part of Wisconsin’s response to COVID-19, the 2019 Wisconsin Act 185 that was signed into law on April 15, 2020, includes five areas related to unemployment that employers need to be aware of:
- The One-Week Waiting Period for Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits Is Suspended. This suspension includes the UI benefit years that occur between after March 12, 2020 and before February 7, 2021.
- Charging Employer Accounts for UI Benefits Related to COVID-19 is Suspended. UI claims paid after March 12, 2020 and before December 31, 2020, won’t be charged to the employer if the claims are COVID-19-related. The charges instead will go towards the state’s balancing account.
- The Work Share Program Expands through December 31, 2020. Work Share plan participants don’t have to conduct job searches to continue their partial UI benefits. Under Act 185, new Work Share plans can cover any employee, need to cover at least two positions (rather than 20 positions or 10% of unit employees), can reduce workings up to 60% of the employee’s regular hours per week, and don’t need to equally distribute the reduced hours among the plan’s employees. Salaried exempt employees may be able to participate, even if their gross weekly pay exceed $500.
- An Employer’s Duty to Provide Personnel Records During COVID-19 is Suspended. As long as the public health emergency is active, employers aren’t obligated to provide copies of personnel files or allow former employees to review their files. Employers should note, however, that the Act does not allow for an employer to completely ignore a request.
- It Will be Assumed that “First Responders” Who Contract COVID-19 Will Have Contracted It At Work. For the purposes of workers’ compensation and while the state’s public health emergency is in effect, it will be assumed that first responders (e.g., fire fighters, health care professionals, and police officers) who test positive for COVID-19 will have contracted it at work.
Starting on November 2, 2020, employers must notify workers at the time of separation of their rights to unemployment benefits. Employers may notify workers with a printed poster, email, text, or letter in person or through the mail.
Emergency Order #105 Face Coverings (February 4, 2021)