Jeffrey M. Landes, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Waste Dive, in “Paid Sick Leave Policies in the Spotlight as COVID-19 Concerns Mount for Frontline Workers,” by E.A. Crunden.

Following is an excerpt:

Concerns about falling ill are growing among frontline waste and recycling workers as the coronavirus continues to spread. Their precarious state is opening up new questions about sick leave policies and the potential for exposure while on the job.

“The challenge is, you want employees to still feel safe,” explained Jeffrey Landes, an employment attorney with the firm Epstein Becker Green.

Company size is playing a role in how employers navigate turbulence around COVID-19, Landes told Waste Dive. Larger businesses are somewhat better equipped to address issues like paid leave requests, either due to worker illness or if employees need to care for sick relatives.  …

In contrast to bigger players, smaller companies are also dealing with new federal rules that directly apply to them. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave pertaining to COVID-19 at regular pay. Caring for another individual as a result of COVID-19 mandates up to 80 hours of sick leave at two-thirds of a worker’s salary.

“Smaller businesses are probably going to be more impacted,” explained Landes, the attorney. “[They’re facing] a busier time from an HR compliance standpoint... larger employers only have to worry about some of the new state leave laws.” …

Even during a difficult time, businesses still have some control over morale and how they shape messaging to employees. In addition to closely monitoring new regulations appearing at the state and federal level, Landes advised companies of all sizes to broadcast safety measures and to maintain transparency with their workforce.

“A priority is making sure you show the employee you take these issues very seriously,” he said. ”The health and welfare of your employees is paramount.”

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