I hope this memorandum finds you all safe and healthy. Please feel free to share or explain this message to your staff. A lot has happened this week and each state has various laws, regulations and concerns. Thanks to all of you who have communicated with me directly and updated us on what you are seeing and doing. Based on that, I thought I would give you all an update.
On March 14, 2020 Congress passed a new Coronavirus Law requiring Paid Employee Leave. The Senate approved it on March 18th. Because it is a new law, it will take 15 days to be enacted. It goes into effect on April 2, 2020 and expires December 31, 2020. It is a 90-page document that companies, HR departments and employees are still digesting. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, and it refers to future regulations and agency information that does not currently exist, so please bear with us as we determine how it works.
In general, starting April 2, 2020 for companies with under 500 employees (Pinnacle falls into this):
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
• 2 weeks of paid sick leave for employees
• For all FT (80 hours) and PT workers (based on a formula of work history) who:
° are symptomatic, under advice to quarantine or self-isolate, or
° have to care for a family member who has such an order, or
° care for a child whose school or childcare facility has closed due to COVID-19
• After 10 days, companies will provide partially paid leave (typically 2/3 of pay) while employees are off for the same reasons as stated above
• There are daily limits, annual limits and weekly limits, etc.
In addition the law requires health plans to cover COVID-19 testing at NO CHARGE (if your health plan provider can find a test kit and they deem it necessary). I believe this does not apply to those without health coverage.
Yesterday the NFDA and the Department of Homeland Security named mortuary workers as “critical infrastructure workers” for the vital role we play. This means we are supposed to have priority access to PPE, be exempt from “shelter-in-place” orders, and, from what I understand, the designation places us in Tier II (of six tiers) should a vaccine become available.
Also, on a personal note, I believe income tax filers (returns are due April 15) have been granted a 90-day extension with no penalties (you do have to file an extension) or interest accrued. Check with your accountant – I’m not a tax advisor.
We all hope everyone stays healthy and does their best to exercise social distancing. Stagger customer flow. Remove tables and chairs to reduce capacity. In addition, wash hands often, provide hand sanitizer, disinfect surfaces more regularly (doorknobs, tables, desks, handrails), eliminate shared food spaces (receptions). And finally, if the weather is good, open doors and windows for increased ventilation. It was the first day of spring this week!
As always, please call or email me, Shannon or Kristine with questions or concerns. If we all work together, we will get through this terrible situation. Stay healthy.
President & CEO