IEC hopes that you’re finding our COVID-19 weekly updates and resources helpful as you navigate through this unprecedented time. Visit our Coronavirus Update webpage frequently to stay up-to-date on the latest need-to-know information.
This Week’s Top Information
Take the Coronavirus Survey and Win!
IEC wants to know how you and your business are faring in the midst of COVID-19. Please take two minutes to answer five short questions about the challenges you're currently facing and your insights on the changes COVID-19 will have on the future of our industry. We’ll choose one lucky respondent to win an M18™ Jobsite Radio/Charger provided by Milwaukee Tool every week! See how your fellow members responded in week 6.
EEOC Provides Guidance on High-Risk Employees Returning to Work
Higher-risk employees who need reasonable accommodations must alert their employers verbally or in writing of their need for job modifications related to underlying medical conditions, according to the EEOC.
OSHA Releases Interim Guidance on COVID-19
OSHA has released interim guidance on handling COVID-19-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports, as well as advice on recording occupational illnesses, especially COVID-19.
How to Handle Suspected COVID-19 Exposure
The CDC has provided guidance for implementing safe practices for critical infrastructure employees who may have had contact with a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 exposure.
The Correct Way to Wear a Respirator at Work
Do you know the seven steps to correctly wearing a respirator? Following this guidance will help you properly put on and take off your respirator and keep you and your co-workers safe. Spanish version. View this helpful video to aid in keeping you healthy.
Change in a Post-COVID WORLD
Electrical distributors are preparing for changes to their operations and customers in the electrical contractor industry – post-COVID 19. Check out the National Association of Electrical Contractors survey results.
IEC Platinum Partners Optimistic About the Future
The IEC Platinum Partners remain optimistic about the future of their businesses and the electrical industry as a whole. During a call among the partners on April 30, the main topic of conversation centered on the new and exciting ways technology will be employed as we move beyond COVID-19 and into the future. The group considered the virtual methods of communication, product delivery, purchasing, and technology being put to use during the pandemic will likely continue to be the norm when we get to the other side. Several participants mentioned the time saved by ordering online as opposed to visiting a brick and mortar location and the younger generation’s comfort level with e-commerce as drivers toward a more virtual business environment moving forward.
CDC Issues New Guidance on Returning to Work
The CDC has issued new guidance on a Symptom-Based Strategy to Discontinue Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 based on the most recent data. In the new guidance, the CDC states that a time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery approach may be appropriate in areas with community transmission where “continued testing is impractical.”
IEC Provides Operational Policy Templates
IEC National and the IEC Safety Committee have developed operational policy templates to address COVID-19. Thank you to Harvey Hammock for his work on these policies.
CDC Weighs In on Temperature Screenings and Disinfection
The CDC has updated its General Business Frequently Asked Questions document to include advice to employers on how to conduct employee temperature screenings, providing three options for employers to consider. It has also issued guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting Reopening Businesses The guidance states that it “is intended for all Americans whether you own a business, run a school, or want to ensure the cleanliness and safety of your home.”
CISC Provides Recommendations for Construction Industry
The Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) has released updates to its COVID-19 Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Plan for Construction document, including new guidance on the use of face coverings; guidance for Critical Infrastructure Employers; procedures for screening and job site visits; procedures for monitoring the temperature of workers; and guidance on ride-sharing and the use of common drinking and eating sources. A version in Spanish is available.
SBA Provides Guidance on PPP
The Small Business Administration (SBA) will continue to provide updated guidance on borrower and lender questions concerning the intricacies of the Paycheck Protection Program.
OSHA Addresses Decontamination and Safety
OSHA offers guidance to workplaces in which employees need respirators to protect against exposure to infectious agents that could be inhaled into the respiratory system. They have also released an industry-specific alert designed to keep construction workers safe.
Additional Resources Available from Ogletree Deakins
IEC’s legal partner, Ogletree Deakins, invites all IEC members to visit their COVID-19 Resource Center for more valuable information.
Return to Work Guide Discount for IEC Members
IEC thanks Phillip Russell of Ogletree Deakins, IEC’s legal partner, for offering the firm’s Return to Work Guide to all IEC members at the existing client rate of $1,950, a savings of 22%. You must be a client of the firm to purchase the Guide as it contains materials that are protected by attorney-client privilege. You may contact Mr. Russell directly to obtain the Return to Work Guide.
Facebook Offers Help to Small Businesses
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to small businesses (2-50) affected by COVID-19. Applications are open now.
CDC Provides Updated Guidance on Asymptomatic Individuals Returning to Work
The CDC has updated its guidance to provide recommendations on when asymptomatic individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 (those who have COVID-19 but do not exhibit symptoms such as fever, coughing, or difficulty breathing) may discontinue isolation.
Preparing for a Return to Work
What will our eventual return to work look like? This much is certain: returning to work will be gradual, phased-in, and will vary by factors such as location, business type and size, and the health status of workers. It will also require continued social distancing, expanded use of personal protective equipment, and other counter-measures. Whenever the return to work begins, the American business community must begin preparing now for new processes, requirements, or restrictions for which there is no playbook or precedent. Learn more.
Emotional Well-being During COVID-19
Infectious disease outbreaks and other public health events can cause emotional distress and anxiety. Feeling anxious, confused, overwhelmed, or powerless is common, especially in the face of a virus with which the general public may be unfamiliar. You’re not alone, and there are resources to help you get through.
IEC Platinum Partners Optimistic About the Future
IEC Platinum Partners continue to hold an optimistic outlook on the future of business after COVID-19. Although some have noticed a delay in project starts and a slowing in supply chain deliveries, they are optimistically focused on life after coronavirus and believe that the pandemic will change the way business is done moving forward, allowing a greater use of virtual capabilities. The experts predict a rush on product once the economy is back in force, and advise companies to purchase materials needed for future projects now, if they’re able.
IEC National Member Webinar: Critical COVID-19 Labor Law Update on Safety, Paid Leaves, Furloughs, and Other Issues
Phillip Russell of Ogletree Deakins delivered a powerhouse webinar on April 10 on recent labor updates resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, including stay-at-home orders, electrical contractors as essential businesses, safety issues, paid sick and extended family and medical leave, furloughs, and other cost-saving measures.
Sample Essential Worker Letter
While “stay-at-home” and mandatory quarantine orders are in place, it may be necessary for workers to carry a letter explaining that they are considered essential and are carrying out company business. Here is a sample letter that can be customized for you company’s needs.
COVID-19 Recommended Best Practices for Construction Worksites
To ensure the continued maintenance and construction of essential infrastructure, consider the best practices summarized here for managing your worksites.
IEC Webinar on Labor & Employment Policies
On March 18, IEC hosted a webinar with Phillip Russell and Dee Anna Hays of Ogletree Deakins who spoke to how electrical contractors can implement relevant workplace safety, pay, leave, and other labor and employment policies. The presenters also addressed precautions to consider as they relate to your general contractors, subcontractors, and customers.
Review all Legislative Resources →
OSHA Provides Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Guide
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released a step-by-step guide to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to calculate loan forgiveness amount, navigate record-keeping requirements, and determine repayment terms on amounts not forgiven. Under PPP, loans may be forgiven if borrowers use the funds to maintain their payrolls and pay other specified expenses.
CDC Releases Report on Its Initiatives to Support the President’s Plan to Reopen America
The CDC has issued a 60-page document to outline its initiatives to support the President’s plan for reopening America, including its activities in monitoring the continued progression of COVID-19, its support of increased contact tracing capacity, guidance on testing, and more.
Treasury Revises PPP Guidance
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued a revision to its guidance concerning the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Employers have questioned if their ability to receive loan forgiveness will be adversely affected if their employees decline to return to work after being furloughed or laid off. In question 40 of its frequently asked questions, the Department confirmed that an employer’s PPP loan forgiveness amount will not be reduced if a laid-off employee refuses an offer to return to work.
What Has Changed in Federal Privacy Rules?
As employees return to work following COVID-19–related closures, questions will arise around sharing employee medical information as it relates to COVID-19 (symptoms, test results, status) within the workplace. Review what has changed about federal privacy rules in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EEOC Laws in the Midst of COVID-19
The EEOC enforces workplace anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The EEOC laws continue to apply during the pandemic, but they do not prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions of the CDC or public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.
Paycheck Protection Program Increased
President Trump has signed a $484 billion interim funding bill to increase the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and provide resources to hospitals, testing programs, and more. The bill includes $320 billion in additional funds for the PPP; $60 billion in funding for Economic Injury Disaster Loans; $75 billion in hospital assistance; and $25 billion for testing.
States Move Forward With Return to Work Planning
States and local jurisdictions continue to consider the three-phased plan under the White House’s guidelines for Opening Up America Again. In order to ease restrictions, States should test and trace contacts effectively, have sufficient capacity in their healthcare systems, and implement plans to protect workers.
OSHA Issues Alert to Help Keep Construction Workers Safe
OSHA has issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect construction workers from exposure to the coronavirus.
Updated Guidance from EEOC
The EEOC has released updated guidance that provides a new direction on reasonable accommodation requests, harassment, and return to work situations while reiterating that while the ADA and other federal equal employment opportunity laws continue to apply during COVID-19, “they do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities.”
OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidance for Compliance
OSHA has released interim enforcement guidance for assessing an employer’s compliance with OSHA standards and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is specifically aimed at standards and regulations that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training, or assessments.
OSHA Guidance on Recording and Reporting
OSHA has issued guidance on determining whether a COVID-19 case is work-related for reporting and recording purposes. Employers have struggled to determine whether a particular COVID-19 case is “work-related” for purposes of reporting to OSHA and recording the case on the OSHA 300 log.
EEOC Guidance on COVID-19 in the Workplace
Gain insight on the guidance for employers from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on balancing concerns under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the midst of a pandemic. The podcast includes information on temperature checks and other health screenings, the confidentiality of medical information, issues related to high-risk employees, and other frequently asked questions.
CISA Develops Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Advisory List
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has developed, in collaboration with federal agencies, State and local governments, and the private sector, an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list intended to help officials as they work to protect their communities while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, and economic and national security.
What You Need to Know About the CARES Act
On March 27, the House passed Phase III of the COVID-19 relief bills, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. IEC has compiled a variety of helpful resources to guide you through the implications of the CARES Act, including a comprehensive summary of the bill, information on small business loans, an informative conference call with S-Corp Association, and a comprehensive CARES Act webinar provided by Ogletree Deakins.
State Unemployment Insurance and CARES Act
All 50 states have signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to administer the CARES Act unemployment benefits in their respective states. The CARES Act will cover members of the U.S. workforce that were not previously covered by unemployment programs, such as business owners, independent contractors, self-employed workers, and gig workers; will extend all state unemployment benefits by 13 weeks (or 12/31/20); and provides an additional $600 in unemployment benefits to the total workers would have received through their state systems for 16 weeks, (or through 7/31/20).
FFCRA Webinar Available to IEC Members
On April 2, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) goes into effect, changing the legal requirements related to employee benefits and leaves of absence. In addition to the numerous resources IEC has compiled for you to become more familiar with the FFCRA, Ogletree Deakins has recorded an informative webinar, "Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What Employers Need to Know," which IEC members now have full access to.
DOL Expands Guidance on FFCRA Requirements
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has expanded its earlier guidance to include 59 of the most common questions surrounding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the legislative initiative available to employers with fewer than 500 employees.
IRS Issues Guidance on FFCRA Tax Credits
The U.S Department of Labor (DOL) is now deferring to new guidance issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which provides answers to the documentation employers should collect from employees in order to qualify for the related tax credits, the written request requirement, leaves based on quarantines, leaves based on school closures, and record-keeping obligations.
Electricians Included in Essential Workforce Federal Guidance
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released guidance designed to help state and local jurisdictions and the private sector identify and manage their essential workforce while responding to COVID-19. States and localities may determine what is considered an essential workforce in their areas. The guidance includes electricians and states, “Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.” CISA executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s responsibilities as assigned under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall Federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure.
ABC Resources Available to IEC Members
Additional resources are available from Merit Shop Partner Association, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).
Ogletree Deakins Coronavirus Resource Center
Additional resources are available from Ogletree Deakins