Columbia EDP Blog

News From Columbia EDP

Posted: 2020-05-08

Running your business while keeping employees healthy and safe

Employers are facing an unprecedented challenge navigating COVID-19. As the virus spreads, it is generating fear and uncertainty. Employers need clear answers they can trust. They want to know how they can protect their employees, what their obligations are under the law, and what steps they may need to take if the situation gets worse. We've put together a few questions that may come up in the hope that it helps you manage this challenge and adapt to the circumstances ahead.

Posted: 2020-05-07

Department of Homeland Security I-9 Temporary Policy

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a temporary policy to allow employers to accept expired List B documents when completing the Form I-9 beginning May 1. This policy is intended to account for the fact that many people are unable to renew their driver’s licenses or state ID cards at this time due to stay-at-home orders. While some states have extended the expiration of drivers’ licenses and state identification cards, which are common List B documents, others have not. The temporary policy addresses both situations.

Temporary Extension for Expired List B Documents That Have Not Been Extended
List B documents that expire on or after March 1, 2020 and have not been extended by the state may be treated the same as if the employee presented a valid receipt for an acceptable document for Form I-9 purposes.

If an employee presents their driver’s license that expired on or after March 1 and it was not extended by the state, employers should:

Posted: 2020-05-06

Bringing employees back from unemployment benefits

Recently the state of Missouri has lifted the stay at home recommendtion and has begun reopening the economy.  How do you go about opening your doors and reestablishing your business?  You may need to look at staffing first.  What do you do when you offer an employee who is currently receiving unemployement benefits thier job back and they refuse to come back? 

Posted: 2020-05-04

How Employers Can Support the Mental Health of Their Employees During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. People have experienced financial hardship, additional challenges with childcare and school cancellations, job loss, reduced hours, sickness, and grief. The future is uncertain, and the present is extra stressful. And to make matters worse, many of the networks and practices that people use to support their mental health are currently unavailable due to social distancing.

In this environment, where people are increasingly anxious and may be socially isolated, it’s even more important that managers support the mental health of their team members — both those who are coming into the workplace and those working from home. High stress can quickly destroy trust, inhibit empathy, and break down teams — each of which makes it more difficult for people to do their jobs. Fortunately, employers can provide some support. Here are some things employers can do to help employees manage stress and tend to their mental health:

When possible, give employees a little extra time to slow down and rest
Employees may need a moment to breathe or a day to regain their peace of mind, and they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for time to take care of themselves. The ability to occasionally function at a medium (or even slow) pace should be built into performance expectations so that employees can avoid burnout or breakdown.

Offer PTO, mental health benefits, and flexible schedules if appropriate
In some cases, employees who want to get the mental health care they need can’t afford it. Losing pay from a missed work shift might be too great a hardship, and effective treatments might be financially out of reach. These financial hindrances can exacerbate conditions like anxiety and depression. In other cases, employees can afford the time off and the treatments, but they can’t make regular appointments work with their schedules. If you can offer paid time off, health insurance benefits, or flexible schedules, these can help employees get the care they need.

Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
An EAP gives employees access to expert, confidential assistance for substance abuse issues, relationship troubles, financial problems, and mental health conditions. These services are offered through an outside provider that connects employees with the appropriate resources and professionals. These programs enable you to provide professional assistance to employees while allowing them confidentiality at work. EAPs are also inexpensive, costing between just 75 cents and 2 dollars per employee per month.

Make reasonable accommodations when possible
If an employee informs you that they have anxiety, depression, or another mental health condition, and they request an accommodation, you should begin the interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodation(s) you can provide in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA applies when an employer has 15 or more employees, but many states have similar laws that require employers to make accommodations at an even lower employee count. You can learn more about the ADA on the HR Support Center.

Create digital spaces for friendships to grow
Loneliness in the workplace can be a serious issue, with significant negative effects on both employees and the workplace. Right now, with many employees working from home, it’s harder to spot signs of it. Employers can facilitate friendships and connections between employees by setting up virtual chat programs and video conferencing apps. 

Employees also need to be reassured that it’s fine for them to take a little time during the workday to reach out to others about non-work matters and participate in virtual games and other fun group activities. Managers can set the tone by participating in fun chats and activities and encouraging employees to join in. Helping employees foster friendships is not only the right thing to do, it can also reduce turnover and increase engagement.

Promote good mental (and physical) health in the workplace
Healthy habits are important for everyone to practice. Consider setting time aside during the week or month for employees to participate in activities like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness that develop and strengthen these habits. If you aren’t familiar with these practices, solicit the help of your employees. One or more of them may know a lot about these activities and be able to assist you in setting up a workplace program or modifying a program for employees currently working from home.  

Make use of additional resources
During this time, employees might benefit from this three-page list of several virtual recovery resources from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and this COVID-19 resource and information guide from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  

Posted: 2020-04-30

The BBB warns of phony loan scams

Our friends at the Better Business Bureau have some tips to be on the lookout for when applying for the small business loans.  

Posted: 2020-04-28

Employee Health Screening Options

With many places moving toward the end of the stay-at-home recommendations and businesses looking to open back up, having a strategy for bringing employees back will help.  We have come up with a few topics that you may come across when bringing back employees. 

Posted: 2020-04-27

Bringing back some of your employees

With many places moving toward the end of the stay-at-home recommendations and businesses looking to open back up, having a strategy for bringing employees back will help.  We have come up with a few topics that you may come across when bringing back employees. 

Posted: 2020-04-24

COVID-19 Updates- rehiring employees

With many places moving toward the end of the stay-at-home recommendations and businesses looking to open back up, having a strategy for bringing employees back will help.  We have come up with a few topics that you may come across when bringing back employees. 

Posted: 2020-04-23

How do EFMLA and EPSL work?

How do EFMLA and EPSL relate to each other, especially in regard to caring for children?

Posted: 2020-04-16

Some new FAQ's from the Department of Labor about unemployment during the Coronavirus

The Department of Labor has added some new Frequently Asked Questions. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Questions and Answers