EMPLOYER UPDATES – COVID-19 resources and news

Update: State and Federal coronavirus rules, mandates

Mandated restaurant, bar, theater closures

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ordered the closure of dine-in services at restaurants and bars throughout the state. He also ordered gyms, casinos, theaters, coffeehouses, cigar bars, brewpubs and distillery pubs to close.

The order, effective at 8 a.m., March 17, allows restaurants to continue to serve meals for delivery or carry-out, but not for in-person service. It will stay in place for at least 30 days.

Read the full rule here

Emergency paid leave

Employers are required to provide employees up to four days of paid sick time if they are showing flu-like symptoms who are awaiting This rule is meant to limit the spread of highly contagious disease and enables workers in at-risk occupations to access testing.

Read the full rule here

Legislation

FEDERAL – On March 14, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a series of measures intended to bolster the safety net for families and workers whose livelihoods and health are affected by the virus. The bill calls for:

  • Two weeks paid sick leave and up to three months paid family and medical leave equal to no less than two-thirds of a worker’s pay. Applies to employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees and the government. Companies with fewer than 50 employees can be exempted. Tax credits would offset this cost for businesses.
  • Free coronavirus testing for all
  • $1 billion for food security programs including SNAP, foodbanks, delivery service for senior citizens, and children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
  • $2 billion for emergency grants to states to assist with the processing and paying unemployment insurance.

Status: Pending approval in the Senate, which is expected this week.

 

COLORADO – The Colorado Legislature suspended its work for at least two weeks starting on March 14


Business closures: What
are employee options?

Layoffs
Businesses considering layoffs should encourage employees to contact the Division of Unemployment Insurance at 1-800-388-5515, in Espańol 1-866-422-0402.

Because of the anticipated backlog, it could take up to six weeks for claims to get approved. Employers who are concerned about employee well-being might consider reducing hours immediately to let folks become eligible for UI while not losing all income entirely.

Those who work fewer than 32 hours a week and earn less than the weekly amount of unemployment benefits (approximately 55% of the employees average wage) are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Reduced hours

Businesses whose employees can work reduced hours or remotely should investigate the state’s Work-Share Program which may allow certain employees who have had reduced hours to claim partial unemployment benefits.

To qualify, employers must have reduced the normal weekly work hours by at least 10 percent, but by no more than 40 percent. The reduction must affect at least two out of all employees in the business, or a minimum of two employees in a certain unit.

 

Important: Unemployment system overwhelmed

The Unemployment System is currently fielding an unprecedented volume of calls. For the week of March 6, the office handled 400 claims. For the week of March 16, the office received more than 10,000 claims by noon on Tuesday. Every agent has been assigned to handle claims.

 

Advise employees to attempt filing at non-peak hours and to save often – the system does not automatically save. Online filing remains the best option.

 

Employers can do their part to expedite the claims process by registering to approve claims electronically (as opposed to by mail) through the State Information Data System (SIDES). Employers are urged to sign up for this service to support their employees.

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