E-Blasts

HEALTH CHECKS AND COMPENSABLE TIME: TIME IS MONEY

By: P. Elizabeth Helms

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued guidance on performing employee health checks specifically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  You may read that guidance here.  This guidance provides recommendations as to how and when an employer may opt to take an employees’ temperature and conduct a COVID-19 health screening pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.   Such health checks are permissible under the current pandemic conditions, but not mandatory.

However, employers must consider a potential wage-and-hour trap: Time spent by hourly nonexempt employees performing or submitting to such health checks is compensable.  Employers must be sure to accurately capture, record and pay that time, regardless of how small it may seem.  Employers are required to compensate nonexempt employees for all hours worked (even for the onsite health checks).

However, employers can and should implement policies and protocols in an effort to avoid this potential wage-and-hour trap.  For example, employers can install multiple screening stations or stagger shifts to minimize the overall wait time and set the timing and location of health check stations to ensure the checks are captured as on-duty compensable time.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

If you have questions about how to accurately capture your employees’ time for onsite COVID-19 health checks, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.

 

ALERT: DOL Issues New Rule Extending COBRA and Other ERISA Deadlines During Pandemic

By: Manuel E. Ignacio

The Department of Labor issued a new Rule extending the deadlines for employees to elect COBRA coverage and to make COBRA premium payments (in addition to other deadlines related to ERISA benefits) during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The extension suspends the time for calculating these deadlines during the period from March 1, 2020 (when the current state of national emergency was announced) until sixty (60) days after the national emergency is lifted.

Employees generally have 60 days to elect COBRA coverage under a group health plan and 45 days to make the first premium payment.  The “timer” on these (and other) deadlines is effectively paused while the current national emergency remains in effect and until 60 days after it is lifted.  You can read the agency’s Rule here.  Employers should contact qualified ERISA counsel with specific questions about how this new Rule affects their business and their employees.

NEW HOURS OF SERVICE REGULATIONS ISSUED BY DOT FOR COMMERCIAL TRUCK DRIVERS

By: Manuel E. Ignacio

The Department of Transportation has issued long awaited final rules governing hours of operation for commercial truck drivers. The new rules are intended to allow more flexible operating schedules.

(1) The mileage limit for the short-haul exception is increased from 100 air miles to 150 air-miles. Short-haul drivers are also now required to log their “Records Of Duty Status” hours after 14 hours of duty rather than 12 hours;

(2) The 11-hour cap on on-duty driving time is increased by up to two hours during adverse driving conditions (such as snow, sleet, fog or other unforeseen traffic conditions);

(3) 30-minute rest breaks are now required only after 8 hours of actual driving time, rather than 8 hours of driving and non-driving on-duty time.  Non-driving on-duty time (such as waiting on shipments to load or refueling) can qualify as the required 30 minute break;

(4) The sleeper berth exception allowing drivers to meet the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending part of that time in the sleeper berth is modified to allow a combination of at least 7 (rather than 8) hours in the berth and at least 2 hours inside or outside of the berth, provided the two periods total at least 10 hours.

The full Final Rule can be viewed here.

NEW HOURS OF SERVICE REGULATIONS ISSUED BY DOT FOR COMMERCIAL TRUCK DRIVERS

By: Manuel E. Ignacio

The Department of Transportation has issued long awaited final rules governing hours of operation for commercial truck drivers. The new rules are intended to allow more flexible operating schedules.

(1) The mileage limit for the short-haul exception is increased from 100 air miles to 150 air-miles. Short-haul drivers are also now required to log their “Records Of Duty Status” hours after 14 hours of duty rather than 12 hours;

(2) The 11-hour cap on on-duty driving time is increased by up to two hours during adverse driving conditions (such as snow, sleet, fog or other unforeseen traffic conditions);

(3) 30-minute rest breaks are now required only after 8 hours of actual driving time, rather than 8 hours of driving and non-driving on-duty time.  Non-driving on-duty time (such as waiting on shipments to load or refueling) can qualify as the required 30 minute break;

(4) The sleeper berth exception allowing drivers to meet the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending part of that time in the sleeper berth is modified to allow a combination of at least 7 (rather than 8) hours in the berth and at least 2 hours inside or outside of the berth, provided the two periods total at least 10 hours.

The full Final Rule can be viewed here.

EMERGENCY DOT EXEMPTIONS EXTENDED TO JUNE 14, 2020

By: Manuel E. Ignacio

Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 was issued on March 13, 2020, following the declaration of a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It provides an exemption from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 national emergency, who are engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons.  The exemption has been extended to June 14, 2020.

Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies (such as food and fuel) related to COVID-19 during the emergency.  Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the exemption.

Note that motor carriers and drivers covered by the exemption are not exempted from all related regulations.  The exemption has restrictions and limitations that are enumerated on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) website here.

If you have questions regarding how these new regulations or the emergency exemptions affect your company, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron, Incorporated.

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