The pandemic has shaken the world of employment. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in March of last year, we’ve witnessed employers having laid-off employees. They have also put robust health and safety measures in the workplace. They have even gone as far as adopting the work-from-home (WFH) policy.
On the other end of the spectrum, some employees have confronted employment termination issues. Some who are fortunate enough to keep their jobs have been forced to come to work. In addition, we’ve seen critical employment concerns, such as working hours and proper compensation as well as availing of leave benefits.
In this article, we’ll share some legal issues on employment in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Keep on reading to see how you can address these legal concerns.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been mass layoffs and furloughs around the world. Even big companies such as Maersk, Warner Brothers, Southwest, and Disney have downsized their workforces. As such, over 60 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance during the first six months of the pandemic.
As such, employers must adhere to their legal obligations concerning employee termination. They must comply with the Federal Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act. For instance, they must provide their employees with a termination notice for at least 60 days.
If you haven’t been notified as an employee, you can exercise your legal rights to be allowed to make the necessary transition in your employment.
Occupational Health and Safety
Occupational health and safety are critical concerns in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. It’s good that most employers worldwide have implemented a mandatory WFH policy. Some have adopted a hybrid work model, where employees partly WFH and partly go to the office. Employers that require their employees to work onsite must set health and safety measures in place.
The best course of action is for employers to follow the guidelines set forth by proper authorities. For instance, consider the general employer guidance and safety recommendations set forth by the Center for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
If you feel you’re working in an unsafe working environment with the COVID-19 threat, be sure to bring this up with your employer. Otherwise, you can take legal action against your employer.
Working Hours and Corresponding Wage
Another grave concern posed by the COVID-19 pandemic is the work schedule. Along with this is the corresponding salary employees must receive. Given the WFH policy and hybrid work model, it can be hard to track the working hours and provide just compensation.
However, employers must orient their employees on their work schedule and corresponding wage. It’s best to amend their contracts to redefine their working hours, including the rest breaks and overtime.
As an employee, consider working with a lawyer specialized in legal issues on employment if you aren’t justly compensated and your employer refuses to cooperate.
It’s good that Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) at the onset of the pandemic. This act requires employers to enforce the federal paid sick time mandate. They must not be stringent in their leave approval, especially if employees show symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
We all know the value of leaves provided by employers as employee benefits. It’s all the more imperative for employees to avail themselves of their leaves during this COVID-19 pandemic.
That said, you must consider filing particularly for sick leaves if you’re feeling unwell. If your employer unfairly rejects your leaves, consider seeking legal action.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reared its ugly head and led to social inequalities. For instance, it has led to the rise of employment discrimination. Those that are gravely affected are women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and those who have disabilities. It appears that they are those who will most likely get laid off at work.
Employers should seek legal consultation in making business decisions to avoid discrimination in the workplace. They must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed impacted businesses. Employers must identify and acknowledge legal issues on employment such as those mentioned above. They must also perform due diligence, review new applicable laws, and exercise legal measures at all times.
On the other hand, employees must be wary of these legal concerns. Should you be violated, be sure to work with a legal professional to protect your rights. Ultimately, both employers and employees must uphold the laws of the land within their employment jurisdictions.