Employees Should Know Their Rights During The Covid 19 Crisis
Recently enacted Federal legislation, the American Rescue Plan Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and certain state laws may entitle you to some new and existing benefits and rights as a result of COVID-19. If you have questions or want to talk to an attorney about your rights during this pandemic, please contact us online or call 314-732-1127 or 888-365-0445 or visit us on Facebook.
During the COVID-19 crisis, an employee or a self-employed individual, may be entitled to unemployment benefits, including an enhanced benefit of an extra $300/week for a period of time if you are partially or totally unemployed because of COVID-19 related issues. Depending on where you were employed, you can find out more information about these benefits and how to apply at:
- Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations: https://labor.mo.gov/unemployed-workers
- Illinois Department of Employment Security https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/default.aspx
You may be entitled to workers’ compensation if you were infected with COVID-19 on the job:
- Illinois issued an emergency Workers’ Compensation Rule with special provisions for frontline workers, such as first responders, and health care, grocery store, and construction workers, who were diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Missouri passed a special Worker’s Compensation Rule for First Responders (law enforcement officer, firefighter or an emergency medical technician (EMT)), who have contracted COVID-19.
- While not covered by these special rules, other workers infected by COVID-19 may also have Workers’ Compensation Claims.
Premium Subsidies for Extended Health Insurance Coverage (COBRA)
Under the American Rescue Plan Act, you may be eligible for a 100% premium subsidy to cover the cost of extended health insurance coverage (COBRA coverage) for the six (6) months period from April 1, 2021 through September, 30 2021 if:
- Between November 1, 2019 and April 1, 2021, you and/or your eligible dependents lost coverage under a group health plan due to a reduction in your hours (e.g., from full-time to part-time) or because your employment terminated (for reasons other than gross misconduct or a voluntary termination) and
- You enrolled in COBRA coverage in which you are still enrolled, or
- You either declined coverage or elected but then dropped COBRA coverage and reenroll effective April 1, 2021; or
- On or after April 1, 2021, you and/or your eligible dependents lose coverage under a group health plan due to a reduction in your hours (e.g., from full-time to part-time) or because your employment terminated (for reasons other than gross misconduct or a voluntary termination) and elect COBRA coverage.
Paid or Unpaid Leave
The requirement to provide paid paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the FFRCA ended December 31, 2020. Under the American Rescue Plan Act, your employer may (but is not required to) provide voluntarily paid or unpaid leave, if you-
- Are subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or are caring for an individual subject to such an order;
- Self-quarantine on the advice of a health care provider or are taking care of an individual who is so self-quarantined;
- Are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- Are caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care has been closed, or if their childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19;
- Experiencing any other similar conditions specified by the Health and Human Services.
- Have been exposed to COVID-19 and are seeking or awaiting a diagnosis or the results of a diagnostic test (including a diagnosis or test requested by your employer); or
- Are getting a COVID–19 vaccine or are recovering from any injury, disability, illness, or condition related to such vaccine.
Retaliation or Discrimination
Federal and State discrimination laws may also protect you during this crisis if:
- You believe your employer fires, lays you off, reduces your hours or wages or otherwise retaliates or discriminates against you because you have COVID-19 or its symptoms, or take COVID-19 related leave.
- A COVID-19 diagnosis, symptoms of it and an individual vulnerability to it may raises issues of disability or age discrimination, reasonable accommodations, and confidentiality of personal health information.
You may have a right to telework, if available, when you cannot be at the workplace because of COVID-19 related issues.
Workplace Safety Concerns
An employer that does not follow reasonable safety procedures may be in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) or city and/or county executive orders.
- You may be able to file a complaint with OSHA.
- OSHA also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for filing a good-faith complaint with OHSA about safety concerns at work.
NLRB (National Labor Relations Board)
Unions have the right to information about COVID-19 safety issues and, depending on the circumstances, the right to bargain on COVID-19 related changes in the workplace. Even non-union employees have the right to engage in collective action for purposes of seeking a safer workplace and better wages and benefits.
This is a developing and changing area of the law which our firm is monitoring for the most up-to-date government regulations and guidance regarding its interpretation and application.
Remember the information provided on this page does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.
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