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Idaho Business Law Employers, Employees And The Coronavirus

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Business Attorney

Without a doubt, the Coronavirus has become the single greatest event affecting businesses most of us will see during our lifetimes. This is especially true for individuals who are employers. The regular statutes and laws that govern the specific things that employers must do to protect their employees, have all been radically and temporarily changed because of this pandemic. As a result, it is vitally important that employers understand the current laws that affect them.

The purpose of this article is to discuss many of these changes so that as employers you will know what your duties and obligations are to your employees. The single best resource I’ve found that provides answers to these questions is on the Department of Labor’s webpage concerning Coronavirus resources. This is a link to that page:

This article will summarize much of the information that is contained on this website. We encourage you to visit this website so that you can get additional information about what you as an employer need to know and do.

We are also ready and willing to answer your questions through a free 30-minute phone consultation. Please feel free to call us so that we can answer your questions.

Workplace Safety

The first specific area that you should be aware of is workplace safety, or in other words, making sure that your employees stay safe when they come to work. On March 13 2020, president Trump, declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency. Additionally, the World Health Organization has titled the Coronavirus as a pandemic, which means that it is a global outbreak of the disease.

When it comes to employees, every health organization strongly recommends that employers monitor their employees. If any employee is ill, the employer should require them to go home. The employee should then be quarantined or isolated for a two-week period of time so that their health can be determined. If an employee is diagnosed with the Coronavirus, then the employer should take additional actions to create a safe workplace for other employees. This may require isolating employees at the workplace, or if necessary, requiring all employees to go home, or to work from home remotely.

Wages, Hours and Leave

When it comes to wages, hours worked, and leave policies, everything has now been changed. What was previously controlled exclusively by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), has now been changed and modified under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Many employees affected by the Coronavirus, or who have family members affected by the disease, are entitled to paid leave while they isolate and quarantine themselves. Under the previous FMLA laws, these rights only extended to employees who work for an employer who had 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. However, now, the same rights extend to most employers who have fewer than 50 employees.

As an incentive to help these employers, the federal government has declared that any wages that are paid under the new FFCRA will be converted to a payroll tax credit immediately to benefit the employer. Under the statute, all employees are entitled to two weeks, or to receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay when the employee is unable to work because they themselves are quarantined or are experiencing Coronavirus symptoms.

Additionally, all employees are entitled to take two weeks or receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at 2/3 the employers regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because they are caring for an individual who is quarantine, or are caring for children whose is closed due to the Coronavirus.

Unemployment Insurance

Finally, the federal government has provided flexibility to all states who provide an unemployment insurance program whenever an employee is terminated or laid off due to the Coronavirus. In other words, if an employer must close his business down, or if they are ordered to close their business down by a state or federal authority, the employees who were employed by that business are entitled to receive unemployment pay.

There is no doubt that the situation with the Coronavirus is fluid and is constantly changing. When it comes to employers, it is important that each employer keeps up with the advancing regulations and laws that are put in place to protect employees during this time.

If you have questions or concerns, we are ready to help. Please contact us for your free 30-minute telephone consultation.

Enlist An Idaho Business Attorney To Help You

Our team of Idaho business lawyers can help you with any of your business structure or operation needs. Whether you are seeking to create a new business or review a current business, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho business problems.

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