COVID-19 Client Communication, Vol. 8

Please find our latest alerts below surrounding COVID-19 and its effect on various policies and laws. Also, note that we have provided updates to the following alerts: “Shelter In Place Orders” and “Public Spaces = Covered Faces.”

As always, feel free to read and share these alerts, and contact us if there is anything we can do to help you or your business maintain compliance in this ever-evolving situation.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Client Communication, Vol. 8”

America CARES About Unemployment

DOL Issues Guidance on New CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Provisions

Written by Jeremy Mittman and Thea Rogers

Last week, the DOL issued two guidance letters (available here and here) to state workforce agencies (such as the California EDD) on the unemployment insurance provisions of the recently enacted CARES Act. The CARES Act, which has been discussed in prior blog posts at length (see, e.g. here, here and here), provides emergency assistance for certain individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Most notably, the DOL guidance instructs state agencies on how to implement and operate two programs that were included as part of the CARES Act involving unemployment insurance benefits: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. Additionally, the federal government will provide 100% reimbursement to states that provide compensation to individuals beginning on their first week of unemployment (i.e., states which do not require a waiting week) and enter into an agreement with the DOL. Continue reading “America CARES About Unemployment”

Georgia Employers On the Hook

Georgia: Employers Must File Partial Unemployment Insurance Claims for Their Employees

Written by Jeremy Mittman and Carly Epstein

On March 16, 2020, Georgia’s Department of Labor (the “Georgia DOL”) became the first state to adopt a rule that requires employers to file partial unemployment claims for any week during which an employee (full-time or part-time) has his or her hours reduced or eliminated due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Under Georgia law, partial unemployment claims apply to employees who will experience a reduction in hours or a temporary layoff.  Employers must file partial unemployment claims online by visiting the Employer Portal, and must file partial claims for each weekly pay period during the temporary reduction/layoff. Continue reading “Georgia Employers On the Hook”

California Court Of Appeal Says Unlimited Vacation Policies Fly

Written by Jeremy Mittman

Why This Matters

Over the last several years, some employers have chosen to adopt unlimited vacation time policies for their employees.  Unlike more traditional vacation policies, under unlimited vacation policies, vacation time does not vest.  Rather, employees can take as much vacation time as they’d like (generally within reason and subject to business needs).  One of the benefits of these policies for employers is that, while vested vacation time is considered wages and must be paid out upon termination of employment, because unlimited vacation time does not vest, there is nothing to pay out when employment ends.

Recently, in McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation, Inc., the California Court of Appeal ruled that, while under the facts of the particular case, the employer’s “unlimited” vacation time policy was not valid (and so the actual vacation days taken by plaintiffs should be accrued and paid out upon termination), employers may have “truly unlimited time off policies” if they are provided to employees in writing and meet certain criteria set forth below.

Continue reading “California Court Of Appeal Says Unlimited Vacation Policies Fly”

COVID Conversion

Written by Allan B. Cutrow

Unfortunately, the current health and economic crises have significantly and negatively affected asset values. However, these depressed asset values create significant planning opportunities to consider. One is the conversion of a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.

Many investors often consider converting their traditional IRA into a Roth IRA as part of their overall retirement planning. Investments in a Roth IRA have the potential to not only grow tax-free (in the same manner as a traditional IRA), but also do not have required minimum distributions during the lifetime of the original owner and his or her spouse. Continue reading “COVID Conversion”

Public Spaces = Covered Faces

Written by Susan Kohn Ross

On Friday, April 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came out with a recommendation that anyone who goes out in public should wear a face covering.  The CDC took action based on recent studies which are said to show that “a significant portion” of individuals have the COVID-19 virus but are displaying no symptoms, and so are unknowingly infecting others. Speaking is cited as one of the situations by which asymptomatic individuals are spreading the virus. Therefore, CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, where social distancing may be difficult to maintain. Continue reading “Public Spaces = Covered Faces”

COVID-19 Relief for Music Industry Workers

Written by Eleanor M. Lackman and Craig C. Bradley

Music industry associations and trade groups, working alongside organizations spanning the creative industries, scored a major victory in securing financial help under the CARES Act (the “Act”) for musicians, music producers, and other music industry workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief falls into two categories: (1) unemployment compensation expanded from traditional employees to include benefits previously unavailable to independent contractors, “gig” workers, and the self-employed, and (2) newly-available loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), including loan advances of up to $10,000, which are now also available to sole proprietors, independent contractors, and the self-employed. Continue reading “COVID-19 Relief for Music Industry Workers”

Privacy Takes Many Forms

Written by Susan Kohn Ross and Timothy Carter

Amazon’s Alexa, Google devices such as Google Assistant and Google Home, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana are now commonplace in many homes. These devices and other lesser-known counterparts allow users to control nearly everything in their homes with only their voice. That convenience, however, comes at the cost of some degree of privacy. While seldom viewed as presenting a live microphone inside one’s home or office, these otherwise passive listening devices begin recording upon initiation of a verbal cue. While the use (or even presence) of such voice assistants may present privacy concerns when used in consumers’ homes, with millions of people working remotely across the world due to COVID-19, these potential privacy concerns can quickly escalate to a much broader concern, especially for attorneys, who, as we discussed earlier, are bound to maintain confidentiality regarding information concerning the representation of their clients. But this concern extends far beyond “just” attorneys, because so many business dealings involve the exchange of confidential information. What one thinks of as a private or confidential discussion with a business partner is now taking place at home, perhaps with others around, but all too frequently in close proximity to these devices. Continue reading “Privacy Takes Many Forms”