COVID-19 FAQs

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LABOR

No. The only type of family and medical leave that is paid leave is expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act when such leave exceeds ten days. This includes only leave taken because the employee must care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Employees may be eligible for both types of leave, but only for a total of twelve weeks of paid leave. They may take both paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides for an initial two weeks of paid leave. This period thus covers the first ten workdays of expanded family and medical leave, which are otherwise unpaid under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act unless the employee elects to use existing vacation, personal, or medical or sick leave under the company’s policy. After the first ten workdays have elapsed, the employee will receive 2/3 of their regular rate of pay for the hours s/he would have been scheduled to work in the subsequent ten weeks under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.

Additionally, if an employee takes expanded family and medical leave, you must require them to provide you with documentation that supports the reason for taking this leave. This may include a notice that has been posted on a school, daycare, or government website, published in a newspaper, or an email notification sent by the school district, child care provider, etc. You should retain these documents for your records if you plan to claim a tax credit under FFCRA.

Yes. Governor Burgum signed an Executive Order on Friday, March 20th to assist business owners in the receipt of Unemployment Insurance by temporarily eliminating income reduction requirements for business owners.

No. Governor Burgum signed an Executive Order on Friday, March 20th directing that individual base period employers accounts will be relieved of charges (i.e. No Charge) on claims filed as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19.

If an employer is requiring an employee to undergo COVID-19 testing, the employer is responsible for the cost of the testing.

The employer has sole discretion to make designations, and may treat essential and non-essential employees differently with regard to their PTO policies, so long as the different treatment is not related to any protected class.

Review the terms of your contract.  Generally, the contract will govern how an employee will be paid under these types of circumstances. 

The employer can set all of the terms and conditions of employment.  For example, some employers may ask employees to keep their regular schedules, including breaks, even if they are working remotely.  In other cases, an employer and employee can work out alternative schedules, keeping in mind reasonable accommodations are made for employees who may need them.

Yes. An employer can set the terms and conditions of employment, including adding job duties.

A non-exempt employee does not have to be paid if no work was performed.  Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an exempt employee is entitled to receive their regular salary if they are “ready, willing and able to work,” but no work was available. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/70-flsa-furloughs

A non-exempt employee is paid based on the work performed, on an hourly, salary, daily and/or piece rate.  A non-exempt employee is entitled to an overtime rate for any hours worked over 40 in a single workweek.  An exempt employee is paid on a salary basis for the job performed, not the number of hours of work performed. An exempt employee is not entitled to overtime wages.

In North Dakota, generally, PTO which is earned and available for an employee’s use must be paid out upon “separation” from employment.  If an employer lays off employees for an indefinite period of time, or with no expectation of bringing some or all of its employees back at a certain date, PTO should be paid out to the employee.

No. State or federal laws require an employer to provide its employees with PTO.  Therefore, an employer can set all of the terms and conditions for the use of and/or awarding of PTO.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Included in the CARES Act is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which is a program for those who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. Job Service North Dakota is currently working to implement this program.

With the passage of the CARES Act those who have current Benefit Year Ends and have exhausted their benefits would most likely be eligible to receive the PEUC extension of 13 additional weeks of regular UI. Other regular claims would be potentially eligible for PEUC at the point they exhaust. We are awaiting guidance on claims where the benefit year has expired and how they might be processed.

CARES Act – Unemployment Insurance Benefits The CARES Act includes expansion of unemployment insurance benefits:

Expands eligibility for unemployment insurance and provides people with an additional $600 per week on top of the unemployment amount already offered by North Dakota Unemployment benefits.

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits for regular claims that exhaust benefits and whose benefit year has not expired
  1. Weekly benefit amount is the same as what was paid on the regular claim
  2. Eligible to receives the $600 supplemental payment for each week certified
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  1. Available to those who do not qualify for a regular unemployment claim
  2. Receives the $600 supplemental payment for each week certified and found eligible

The additional unemployment compensation provided is not considered “income” for purposes of Medicaid and CHIP

Yes. Governor Burgum signed an Executive Order on Friday, March 20th to assist business owners in the receipt of Unemployment Insurance by temporarily eliminating income reduction requirements for business owners.

No. Governor Burgum signed an Executive Order on Friday, March 20th directing that individual base period employers accounts will be relieved of charges (I.e. No Charged) on claims filed as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19.

Yes, generally your employees will be eligible for benefits, if they cannot report for work because they no longer have childcare available to them. If childcare is available, and they choose to not use it, and do not report for work they would most likely be found ineligible as they are not available for work.

Yes, if you are quarantined and physically able to work but cannot work from the quarantine location do to other reasons, you would be eligible to receive benefits based upon recent federal guidance relating strictly to COVID-19.

Yes, if you cannot work due to contracting COVID-19 but will be returning to your employer, you would be eligible to receive benefits based upon recent federal guidance relating strictly to COVID-19.

If your employer shuts down or lays you off due to lack of work caused by the impact of COVID-19 on the business, you will generally be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits.

 

No. Governor Burgum signed an Executive Order on Friday, March 20th that temporarily waives the work search requirement for all claimants. Job Service has adjusted our systems so that you will not be asked to enter any work searches you have completed when you certify your weekly eligibility.

CARES - CORONAVIRUS AID RELIEF & ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT

The EIDL program loans currently being issued will defer the first payment for up to one year. Payments on existing SBA disaster loans (from a previous disaster) are deferred through December 31, 2020.

The unemployment benefits cover self-employed and independent contractors as well as state and local governments and nonprofits to pay unemployment to their employees.

Yes. The CARES Act provides eligible individuals with $600 per week for four months (through the end of July). This is in addition to the state unemployment benefits received weekly. On average, North Dakota's weekly benefit per individual is $460 per week. For those who meet requirements, it provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits beyond what states typically provide.

Visit the North Dakota COVID-19 Resources website ,https://ndresponse.gov/covid-19-resources

Eligible employees for paid sick leave include:

  • an employee who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days when leave is requested;
  • an employee who was laid off not earlier than March 1, 2020, had worked for the employer for not less than 30 of the last 60 calendar days prior to the employee's layoff, and was rehired by the employer.

An employer's requirement to provide paid leave with respect to a specific employee expires at the end of:

  1. the time when the employer has paid that employee an equivalent of 80 hours of work; or
  2. upon the employee's return to work after taking paid leave.

Employers are required to offer this program unless they are an employer over 500 employees or can file with the Department of Labor if you have under 50 employees for a potential forbearance.      

  • $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate for each employee when taking emergency paid sick leave if the employee is subject quarantine or isolation order, has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, or the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis; or the employer may offer
  •  $200 per day for each employee when taking emergency paid sick leave if the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to quarantine order,  is caring for an individual who has been advised to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 or caring for their children if the child’s school or daycare facility has closed.

Grants are ONLY available through state programs. More information on state grant programs is available on the North Dakota COVID-19 Resources website, https://ndresponse.gov/covid-19-resources/covid-19-business-and-employer-resources/covid-19-financial-resources.

The SBA administers the EIDL program. For the latest information, visit the North Dakota COVID-19 Resources website at https://ndresponse.gov/covid-19-resources/covid-19-business-and-employer-resources.

The provisions expand eligibility, waive the requirement for personal guarantees, and offer up to eight weeks of loan forgiveness.

Yes, and the following are the limitations on a paycheck protection covered loan:

An eligible recipient of a covered loan for purposes of paying  payroll costs and  other obligations described in question two (Q2) shall not be eligible to receive an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for the same purpose.

Yes. The amount of loan forgiveness will be calculated based on a formula to calculate the percentage of FTE reduction.

Yes, however, the amount of the loan forgiveness will be reduced based on a formula to calculate the percentage of your FTE reduction.

Local lenders and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have authority to delegate and approve loans. For more information, visit the North Dakota COVID-19 Resources website at https://ndresponse.gov/covid-19-resources/covid-19-business-and-employer-resources/covid-19-financial-resources.

The federal legislation must pass through the Senate and the House. From there it will go to the president for signature. Once it becomes law, the SBA has 15 days to act on the law and  begin distributing  funds via local lenders. The most recent information will be posted on the North Dakota COVID-19 Resources website at https://ndresponse.gov/covid-19-resources/covid-19-business-and-employer-resources/covid-19-financial-resources.

An eligible recipient shall be eligible for forgiveness of indebtedness on a covered loan in an amount equal to the sum of the following costs incurred and payments made during the covered period:

  1. any  payment of  interest on any  covered  mortgage  obligation  (which  shall  not include any  prepayment of or payment of principal on a covered mortgage obligation);
  2. any  payment on any covered  rent obligation;
  3. any covered utility payment.

The amount of loan forgiveness under this section shall not exceed the principal amount of the financing made available under the applicable covered loan. The amount of loan forgiveness shall not exceed  the sum of:

  1. the total payroll costs incurred by the eligible recipient during the covered period; and
  2. the amount of payments made during the covered period on debt obligations that were incurred before the covered period;
    1. the covered period is March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020.
  3. the amount of loan forgiveness is reduced if the businesses full-time equivalent (FTE)  count  has  been reduced.

A loan is eligible for forgiveness in the amount equal to the cost of maintaining payroll continuity during the period of March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020.

Payroll costs do not include:

  1. the compensation of an individual employee in excess of $33,333 during the covered period;
  2. qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages in which a credit is allowed under the H.R. 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The covered period is March 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.

A covered loan is a fee-free loan and has an interest rate not exceeding 4%. The local lender determines the actual interest rate.

The amount of a covered loan is the lesser of:

  1. the product obtained by multiplying the average total monthly payments by the applicant for payroll costs incurred during the one-year  period  before the date on which  the loan  is made, except that, in the case of an applicant that is seasonal employer,  as  determined  by the administrator, the average total monthly payments for payroll shall be for the 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019, or at the election of the eligible recipient, March 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2019 by 2.5; or
  2. if requested by an otherwise eligible recipient that was not in business during the period beginning on Feb. 15, 2019 and ending on June 30, 2019, the product obtained by multiplying the average total monthly payments by the applicant for payroll costs incurred during the period beginning on Jan. 1, 2020 and ending on Feb. 29, 2020 by 2.5; or
  3. (ii) $10,000,000. maximum per business.

Four eligible types of businesses which are covered in this act are:

  1. A small business, nonprofit organization, veteran's organization, or Tribal business which employs:
    • not more than 500 employees;
    • if applicable, the size standard in number of employees established by the Small Business Administration for the industry in which the business concern, nonprofit organization, veteran's organization, or tribal business concern operates.
  2. Sole proprietorship, or independent contractor and eligible self-employed individuals;
  3. business with more than one physical location but meeting certain given conditions;
  4. business operating under affiliated rules e.g. a business operating as a franchise.

A covered loan is a loan made during the period beginning on  February 15, 2020 and ending on June  30, 2020.

The funding is in the form of a covered loan, with the option to become a forgivable loan if the employer follows the payroll continuity.

Paycheck Protection Program is a loan program that a business, which has experienced business concern as a result of COVID- 19, can use to keep its employees paid and employed. This loan program enables businesses to cover the following eligible expenses:

  1. payroll costs;
  2. costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums;
  3. employee salaries, commissions, or similar compensations;
  4. payments of interest mortgage payments (which shall not include any prepayment of, or payment of principal on a mortgage obligation};
  5. rent (including rent under a lease agreement); utilities;
  6. interest on any other debt obligations that were incurred before February 15, 2020.

The Paycheck Protection Program and provisions to the existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) currently offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

BUSINESS INSURANCE

There are discussions underway at both the state and federal level about finding a way to make this pandemic a triggering event. While that would potentially bring coverage, it would have a massive effect on the insurance industry. Insurance is a product that is risk rated and sold based on those risks that are covered in the policy. This type of event was excluded from many policies, and to retroactively enact coverage would put the entire insurance industry at risk of insolvency. This move could also lead to dramatic rate increases, which could also make insurance unaffordable to businesses as we look to recover from this pandemic. 

Additionally, the government retroactively amending contracts (insurance agreements) would also face significant constitutional issues and would ultimately be challenged in court. 

The best option at this point may be to explore what resources are available in North Dakota and through the federal government. To learn more about disaster loans and other programs to help business owners during this difficult time, visit ndresponse.gov/covid-19-resources

Most policies contain similar definitions to those listed below, however, the Department recommends reviewing your specific policy for accurate definitions.   
 
Losses are broken down under three main coverages: 

  • Basic – named perils needs to be listed in the policy. 
  • Broad – named perils needs to be listed in the policy. 

Example of a named peril: 
Infectious Diseases – this includes loss caused by the complete interruption of your operations by an infectious disease acquired by your employees or staff. 

  • Special – covers any loss not excluded in the policy, must be direct physical loss. 

Example of an exclusion: 
Virus or Bacteria – any virus, bacterium or other microorganism that induces or is capable of inducing physical distress, illness or disease. 

 
Common Policy Verbiage: When Special is shown in the Declarations, Covered Causes of Loss means direct physical loss unless the loss is excluded or limited in this policy.

Contingent business income provides coverage when a supplier has suffered a loss, therefore forcing your business to not be able to function. The trigger for contingent business income would be a loss to the supplier’s property. 

 

While a loss does not need to occur to your business for Civil Authority additional coverage to be triggered, a loss does need to occur to another business for there to be coverage. Again, the Department recommends that you review your policy with your agent.  
 
Common policy verbiage: In this Additional Coverage, Civil Authority, the described premises are premises to which this Coverage Form applies, as shown in the Declarations.  When a Covered Cause of Loss causes damage to property other than property at the described premises, we will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain…  

 

It is very important to review the provisions in your business polices, particularly business income policies. Here are some things to look for in your policy;

  • Business income polices reimburse an owner due to loss of income due to a suspension of operations.  
  • Common Policy Verbiage:  We will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain due to the necessary "suspension" of your "operations" during the "period of restoration". The "suspension" must be caused by direct physical loss of or damage to property at premises which are described in the Declarations and for which a Business Income Limit Of Insurance is shown in the Declarations. 

The Insurance Department recommends that you contact your agent to review your policy and ask additional questions.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you will find coverage through your business disruption coverage. Generally, the triggering event for coverage would include physical damage; a pandemic is not considered physical damage. Also, under business disruption coverage there can be Civil Authority coverage, this too generally is triggered by physical damage. 

Standard policies also usually contain an exclusion for viral pandemics or pandemics. These exclusions arose in or around 2003, during the SARs outbreak and are traditionally maintained in the standard language of commercial insurance. Keep in mind that policies can differ greatly, so it’s always important to talk with your licensed insurance agent to clarify exactly what is or is not included in your coverage.

  • Business interruption insurance coverage protects against losses sustained due to periods of suspended operations; it pays loss of revenue that would have been earned if there was no business interruption. It typically provides coverage only if a physical loss to property occurs and may have specific exclusions for viral infections such as COVID-19.
  • Contingent business interruption insurance policies protect against losses from supply chain disruptions but may require the occurrence of property damage to trigger coverage. 
  • Event cancellation insurance provides coverage for expenses arising from delays, rescheduling or cancellations due to unforeseen covered events. Typically, contingent business interruption and event cancellation insurance policies exclude coverage for communicable diseases, such as COVID-19.

LIFE INSURANCE

No. Your disability policy will only pay if you meet the definition of disability in the policy and have satisfied any elimination period. Review your policy closely as there may be various details around elimination periods and how long you are out of work. 

Yes, if the denial is based on their underwriting guidelines and the guidelines comply with North Dakota law.

A life insurance policy must pay a death benefit based on the policy. An insurance company may deny claims within two years after the date the policy is issued if there were material misrepresentations on the application.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Trip cancellation coverage is subject to the terms and conditions of your policy. You can review the fulfillment materials you received and the policy itself to see what type of cancellation coverage you purchased.

Pursuant to Bulletin 2020-1, unless a travel insurance policy contains an exception applicable to COVID-19, a policy of travel insurance that covers the risks sickness, accident or death incident to travel presumptively must cover such risks relating to COVID-19 including emergency transportation within a foreign country, as well as the costs of returning to the U.S. for further treatment.  

HEALTH INSURANCE

A short-term medical plan is a temporary health insurance policy typically offering “bare-bones” coverage designed for use during unexpected coverage gaps. An individual can only hold a short-term medical plan for a short period of time, less than one year. These plans are nonrenewable. Furthermore, they do not meet the coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), meaning an individual may have to pay a monetary penalty for not carrying acceptable health insurance coverage.

With the regulations established by the ACA, short-term medical, limited benefit and discount medical plans have become increasingly popular. However, consumers must be aware of what they are purchasing before replacing their comprehensive major medical coverage with one of these options. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Short-term Medical, Limited Benefit and Discount Medical Plans Guide

Medicare Part B covers many preventive services, such as screenings, vaccines and counseling. If you meet the eligibility requirements and guidelines for a preventive service, you must be allowed to receive the service. This is true for Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, however, your plan’s coverage rules may apply.

If you have questions or concerns about your Medicare insurance coverage, contact the State Health Insurance Counseling (SHIC) program by phone at (701) 328-2440 or (800) 247-0560 or via email at insurance@nd.gov.

During the standard open enrollment period, or if you have a special enrollment period for a health benefit plan, you cannot be denied coverage that qualifies as a health benefit plan under the Affordable Care Act. Being diagnosed with COVID-19 would not qualify for a special enrollment period. If you are applying for a short-term medical plan, hospital indemnity plan or other health insurance that is not a health benefit plan under the Affordable Care Act, the insurer can refuse to sell you insurance if you do not meet their underwriting guidelines.

Health insurance may not be canceled based on a new diagnosis. If you have a short-term medical plan, your claims may be reviewed to see if you had a pre-existing condition.

Pursuant to Bulletin 2020-1, in the event an immunization becomes available for COVID-19, the Department has requested that health carriers immediately cover the immunization at no cost sharing for all covered members. 

Health benefit plans cover medically necessary treatment for disease but the treatment may be subject to deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. You will need to pay those amounts, even if the care is covered. If you have a short-term limited benefit plan, there may be additional limits on what is covered.

If you have a health benefit plan regulated by the State of North Dakota, you should not have to pay for the test. A health benefit plan is generally defined as an individual (including family), small group, large group, or short-term limited duration plan. The Department recommends that you contact your health benefit plan at the number listed on your identification card to see if your specific plan is regulated by North Dakota and is not self-funded.  

Pursuant to Bulletin 2020-1 issued by Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, health carriers have been asked to waive any cost-sharing, including co-pays, deductibles, and coinsurance for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended laboratory testing of COVID-19.  In addition, health carriers have also been asked to waive cost-sharing for an in-network provider office visit, urgent care center visit, or an emergency room visit when testing for COVID-19. This includes short-term limited duration policies but does not include health sharing ministries as those plans are generally not subject to any regulation.

A: Yes, Gov. Burgum issued an executive order on March 20 that ordered insurance companies to expand telehealth services to consumers. Insurance carriers must start or continue to provide covered services via telehealth. Click here to read the bulletin issued by Commissioner Godfread.

WORKFORCE SAFETY INSURANCE

Yes. In general, workers’ compensation coverage extends to employees who telecommute. Keep in mind WSI must evaluate the facts and circumstances of each claim before a coverage determination can ultimately be made.

No. Diseases to which the general public are exposed are specifically excluded from workers’ compensation coverage in North Dakota. COVID-19 fits into this exclusion, even though it may be contended that an employee contracted COVID-19 while working, the employee is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for this type of illness, unless s/he is a healthcare worker to first responder.

Governor Burgum signed an executive order that extends workers’ compensation benefits to healthcare workers and first responders who have an increased chance of being exposed to COVID-19 while at work. The order is intended to cover firefighters, law enforcement, ambulance service providers, medical service providers, and volunteer first responders and medical service providers. The order also provides up to 14 days of medical and wage replacement benefits if these workers must be quarantined.

FAMILIES FIRST HR 6201 - TAX CREDITS FOR PAID SICK, FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

The tax credit applies only to paid wages beginning on the effective date of the law (15 days after its enactment) and will expire on December 31, 2020. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is expressly empowered to issue additional guidance implementing these changes, and the bill includes additional funding reserved to the IRS for this purpose.

Section 7001 of the Act allows a credit against payroll taxes for 100% of the employer-paid qualified sick leave wages paid each calendar quarter, subject to specified limitation. The amount of sick leave wages taken into account for purposes of the credit may not exceed $200 for any employee ($511 per day employees as defined under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act) and the aggregate number of days taken into account is limited to 10 over the number of days taken into account for preceding calendar quarters.

Section 7002 of the Act allows a refundable income tax credit for 100% of sick leave amounts of self-employed individuals under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. For other employees, the credit percentage is 67.

Section 7003 of the Act allows an employer a 100% payroll tax credit for qualified family leave wages paid by such employer for each calendar quarter. The amount of qualified family leave wages that may be considered for each employee is limited to $200 per day and $10,000 for all calendar quarters.

Section 7004 of the Act allows a refundable income tax credit for 100% of the qualified family leave amounts of self-employed individuals, subject to a specified formula for determining the leave amounts.

Section 7005 of the Act provides that wages required to be paid to employees under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act shall not be considered wages for purposes of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Transfers to specified Social Security trust funds are authorized to cover reductions in revenues.

FAMILIES FIRST HR 6201 - EMERGENCY FAMILY & MEDICAL LEAVE EXPANSION ACT

Employees who work under a multiemployer collective bargaining agreement into which their employers make contributions to a multiemployer fund, plan, or program may secure pay from such fund, plan, or program based on hours they have worked under the multiemployer collective bargaining agreement.

Employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks paid leave for an employee who cannot work because the school or child-care provider of that employee's child is closed as a result of a public-health emergency.

Employers of fewer than 500 workers. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempted for from the requirements of this Act when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.

An employee who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days by the employer.

However, an employer of employees who are healthcare providers or emergency responders may exclude these employees.

An employer is required to provide a public health emergency leave to an employee who is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave:

  • To care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or  daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.

FAMILIES FIRST HR 6201 - EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT

Employees who work under a multiemployer collective bargaining agreement into which their employers make contributions to a multiemployer fund, plan, or program may secure pay from such fund, plan, or program based on hours they have worked under the multiemployer collective bargaining agreement.

Each employer shall post and keep posted, in conspicuous places on the premises of the employer where notices to employees are customarily posted, a notice, to be prepared or approved by the Secretary of Labor, of the requirements described in this Act.

Within seven days from enactment, the Secretary of Labor will provide a model of a notice that meets the above requirements.

Failure to pay sick leave will be treated as a minimum wage violation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Remedies for a private cause of action include unpaid wages, liquidated damages (double damages), attorneys’ fees and costs. Employers should be conscious of the heightened risk for a collective action for failure to comply, as well as the potential for personal liability for owners, corporate officers, and other supervisors provided by the FLSA.

Discrimination or retaliation against employees who take leave under the Act or file a complaint relating to the Act is also prohibited. Employers contemplating cost saving measures, including a reduction in force, layoff, or hours reduction, against employees availing themselves to this benefit are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel to assess risk.

Yes. Paid sick leave requirements will automatically expire on December 31, 2020.

This leave is to be given in addition to any required paid leave provided by state or local law.

The number of hours of paid sick time to which an employee is entitled shall be as follows:

  1. For full-time employees, 80 hours.
  2. For part-time employees, a number of hours equal to the number of hours that such employee works, on average, over a 2-week period.

Paid sick time under this Act cannot carry over from 1 year to the next calendar year.

Paid sick time is calculated based on the employee’s required compensation and shall not be less than the greater of the following:

  1. The employee’s regular rate of pay
  2. The minimum wage rate in effect
  3. The minimum wage rate in effect for such employee in the applicable State or locality, whichever is greater, in which the employee is employed.

Paid sick time shall not exceed:

  1. $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for a use described in Q 1 (1), (2), or (3)
  2. $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for a use described in Q 1 (4), (5), or (6);

Employees who are unable to telework may use this leave for COVID-19 related medical leave, including self-isolation due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis; obtaining a medical diagnosis or care if the employee is experiencing coronavirus symptoms; complying with a recommendation or order of a public health official or healthcare provider; caring for a family member who is self-isolating because of a positive diagnosis or experiencing coronavirus symptoms; or is experiencing any other “substantially similar condition” specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

As with the FMLA component above, coverage will also be triggered where an employee must care for a child following the closure of a school or daycare, or other unavailability of childcare due to the coronavirus.

Immediately, regardless of how long the employee has been employed by an employer. There is no accrual or waiting period.

Full-time or part-time employees are unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because of one of the circumstances listed in (Q1). Unlike the FMLA expansion, there is no tenure requirement.

However, an employer of employees who are healthcare providers or emergency responders may exclude these employees. Employers appear to have the discretion to exclude health care providers and emergency responders, though this language of the statute is in tension with the delegation of rulemaking authority to the Secretary of Labor to determine such exemptions.

Private, individual and public businesses are eligible with some exclusions:

  1. Private entity or individual with fewer than 500 employees are subject to the statute.
  2. Public agency or any other entity that is not a private entity or individual, with 1 or more employees

The Secretary of Labor has authority to:

  1. exclude certain healthcare providers and emergency responders
  2. small employers with fewer than 50 employees where the added expense would jeopardize the business.

Under certain circumstances, the requirement to restore employees to their employment will not apply to businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

An employer is required to provide paid sick leave to a full-time or part-time employee who is unable
to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because of one of the following circumstances:

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in point (1) or has been advised as described in point (2)
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter, of such employee, if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of  such son or daughter is unavailable due to COVID–19 precautions
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor. Except that an employer of an employee who is a health care provider or an emergency responder may elect to exclude such employee from the application of this subsection.

PERSONAL, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT

While some offers of assistance are legitimate, many are not. Some red flags include:

  • Guarantees that a business can stop a foreclosure or eviction, regardless of circumstances.
  • Asking for payment before any services are performed.
  • Instructions to make mortgage or rent payment to someone else, not to your loan servicer or landlord.
  • Asking you to sign incomplete or blank paperwork or pressuring you to sign a document you have not had time to read thoroughly.
  • Do not respond to emails, texts or social media notifications that you can receive or are qualified for assistance. Call your mortgage servicer or landlord to discuss your situation.

Yes, if you can pay your rent or make your mortgage payment, you should continue to do so. The moratorium on foreclosures and evictions doesn’t mean that payments are no longer required. It means that households who are unable to make payments cannot be evicted or foreclosed on.

A payment holiday doesn’t mean that your friend won’t have to make a payment, it means the payment was deferred or delayed. Eventually, the payment will be required. Each mortgage loan servicer or landlord has different financial circumstances dictating what they are able to offer. Talk to your loan servicer or landlord to learn what options they can provide.

Contact your landlord or mortgage servicer to discuss the situation. It will be up to your landlord or mortgage servicer to decide if they will offer a repayment plan and/or waive late fees.

Contact your mortgage servicer or landlord to discuss your situation. Servicers provide their contact information on monthly statements or in a payment coupon book. Landlords provide contact information on leases. It is typically available at apartment building entrances as well.

 

North Dakotans are encouraged to use the North Dakota Department of Human Services self-service portal at www.nd.gov/dhs/eligibility/index.html to apply for Medicaid health care coverage and other help, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), child care assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Some individuals can also use the portal webpage to complete required reviews, report changes in income, household size and other circumstances, and to securely upload documents. TANF monthly reporting has not been automated yet, and clients should continue to submit completed reports to their local human service zone offices (formerly known as county social service offices). These can be submitted by email, fax or dropped off at a zone office.

Individuals can find information about how to apply for heating assistance at www.nd.gov/dhs/services/financialhelp/energyassist.html or by contacting their local human service zone office.

Parents can also find resources and information and access online Child Support services at www.childsupportnd.com. Parents with questions about their case can also call Child Support customer service at 701-328-5440, toll-free at 800-231-4255 and 711 (TTY).

Parents, family members, and other trusted adults play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear. Visit http://www.parentslead.org/COVID-19 for resources to guide your conversations.

North Dakota Department of Human Services – Behavior Health Division

www.behavioralhealth.nd.gov/covid-19

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) can be stressful for people and communities. The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division is offering resources to support North Dakotans’ behavioral health during this time.

Recovery Talk: 1-844-44TALK2

Individuals with a substance use disorder that need support are encouraged to visit with a trained peer support specialist in the state who has lived experience in addiction.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746

Available to provide crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. TYY 1-800-846-8517 for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Individuals struggling with thoughts of suicide

North Dakota Department of Human Services – Behavior Health Division

www.behavioralhealth.nd.gov/covid-19

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) can be stressful for people and communities. The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division is offering resources to support North Dakotans’ behavioral health during this time.

FirstLink 2-1-1 (available 24/7): https://myfirstlink.org/ or call 2-1-1 or 701-235-7335

FirstLink maintains a directory of community resources spanning across the entire state of North Dakota and western Minnesota.

In addition to providing information on resources (e.g., financial assistance, food banks), the 24/7 2-1-1 Helpline (dial 2-1-1 or 701-235-7335) is available to provide listening and support to those in need during these trying times.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Individuals struggling with thoughts of suicide

TRAVEL

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel warnings related to all international travel. Some countries have more strict recommendations than others. For up-to-date information related to travel warnings and recommendations, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html.

All individuals traveling back to North Dakota from international locations and states in the U.S. that have been classified as having widespread disease by the CDC (list below) must quarantine immediately upon reentry to the state of North Dakota and for a period of 14 days.

Essential critical infrastructure workers, as defined by the United States Department of Homeland Security, are exempt from this order.

Affected individuals are encouraged to fill out the travel form to receive information on how to monitor for symptoms. If you have symptoms and wish to seek medical care, please call before you go in.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States. However, all individuals traveling back to North Dakota from international locations and states in the U.S. that have been classified as having widespread disease by the CDC must quarantine immediately upon reentry to the state of North Dakota and for a period of 14 days. See the Travel Quarantine Order for more information, including a list of affected states. 

 

EMPLOYMENT / BUSINESS / SCHOOLS / CHILDCARE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has information translated in Mandarin and Spanish: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

The Minnesota Department of Health has information on coronavirus (COVID-19) in multiple languages (Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Hmong, Karen, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese): https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/materials/index.html

It’s important to discuss with your health care provider about your risk of complications if you would also acquire coronavirus (COVID-19). Decisions between your health care provider and your employer could help you decide what is best for your health.

All people should continue to follow social distancing guidance, good handwashing hygiene and staying home if sick. Any person with a fever and/or respiratory symptoms who was not tested, should stay home until at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications) and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

The North Dakota Department of Health cannot release an individual’s test results to unauthorized persons because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Laws. However, we will work with individuals to identify any close contacts that need to be notified.

Secondary contacts (contact to a contact) can report to work as long as they are not sick. Unless you have been told to stay home by the North Dakota Department of Health, you can report to work as long as you remain well.

All people should continue to follow social distancing guidance, good handwashing hygiene and staying home if sick. Any person with a fever and/or respiratory symptoms who was not tested, should stay home until at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications) and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

All people should continue to follow social distancing guidance, good handwashing hygiene and staying home if sick. Any person with a fever and/or respiratory symptoms who was not tested, should stay home until at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications) and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Guidance for employers on response plans to COVID-19 can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Yes, people who are not sick and are not under advisement for other reasons (e.g., travel from a Level 3 location, close contact to a person diagnosed with COVID-19) can report to work. 

All people should continue to follow social distancing guidance, good handwashing hygiene and staying home if sick. Any person with a fever and/or respiratory symptoms who was not tested, should stay home until at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications) and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

FirstLink 2-1-1 (available 24/7): https://myfirstlink.org/ or call 2-1-1 or 701-235-7335

FirstLink is maintaining a list of agencies with significant changes or closures across the state on their website. This list will be updated in real-time as such information is shared with them.

The guidance for schools and daycares can be found at:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-schools.html

There was a webcast on March 10, 2020, that discussed questions that many childcare/daycares have relating to coronavirus (COVID-19). That webcast can be found at: http://ndhealth.gov/ET/WebcastCalendar/

While recommendations around social distancing and mass gatherings indicate people should not congregate in groups of 10 people or more, this does not apply to the school, work, business owners or childcare settings at this time.  

EXPOSURE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

People being tested and waiting for results should stay home until they receive their test results.

Healthy people who have been in contact with someone, including family members who are being tested and waiting for their results, can work and do not need to be quarantined at this time. If someone in the household has tested positive for coronavirus, keep the entire household at home.

The North Dakota Department of Health will be conducting interviews with people that have been confirmed to have COVID-19 to determine who their close contacts are.

Being in an indoor environment (e.g., store, workplace, restaurant) with someone who has COVID-19 is not necessarily considered having close contact. A close contact is defined as a person who spends a prolonged period of time within 6 feet (2 meters) of a person that has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with someone that has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Just being in an indoor environment with someone is not necessarily a close contact.

The North Dakota Department of Health will be conducting interviews with all persons diagnosed with COVID-19 to determine who their close contacts are. People who are identified as close contacts will be notified by the North Dakota Department of Health and will receive instruction on quarantine and monitoring. 

If you have not been contacted by the North Dakota Department of Health after you have been in the same location with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, you are not considered a close contact but should continue to follow social distancing guidance, good handwashing hygiene and staying home if you become sick.

Any person with a fever and/or respiratory symptoms who was not tested, should stay home until at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications) and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

TESTING FOR CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

Contact your health care provider for your test results. Results will usually be available in 24-48 hours, but may vary depending on a variety of factors (e.g., the time required to get the specimen to the lab, number of specimens that need to be tested, lab being used to do the testing). The North Dakota Department of Health is unable to release results to patients.

The North Dakota Department of Health has developed a fact sheet for people who have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for results. The fact sheet can be found at:  https://www.health.nd.gov/sites/www/files/documents/Files/MSS/coronavirus/Fact_Sheet_for_People_Being_Tested.pdf 

Individuals who think they may have COVID-19 but have minor symptoms should self-isolate at home. Individuals seeking medical attention should call before they go in. Symptoms of COVID-19 in people who have been exposed can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. 

Each facility within the state is making decisions on how to see patients who require COVID-19 testing. Some of those plans may include drive-through testing locations. Talk with your health care providers in your community to determine how and where they are receiving patients for testing.

Not everyone calling a health care provider will be given guidance to come in for testing. To address the shortage of nylon swabs, the North Dakota Department of Health has recommended to health care providers that testing be prioritized for the following groups: 

  • Patients hospitalized with respiratory illness
  • Those living or working in congregate settings
  • Health care workers
  • Those who are identified by public health as a close contact to an existing positive case and are ill

All people should continue to follow social distancing guidance, good handwashing hygiene and staying home if sick. Any person with a fever and/or respiratory symptoms who was not tested, should stay home until at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications) and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

The North Dakota Department of Health has authorized providers to use their judgement on who should be tested for COVID-19. Contact a health care provider; they will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

The North Dakota Department of Health has provided the following guidance to health care providers: Health care providers should not refer patients to the North Dakota Department of Health for medical consultation or screening to determine the need for testing.

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