Employment

Home Office Expenses: What You Need To Know

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people are still working from home. This arrangement raises important questions. May employees take advantage of tax breaks related to having a home office? Must the employer pay for the expenses of setting up a workspace at the employee’s home? What related information should employers and employees be aware of? Workers may be able to obtain tax deductions or tax-free reimbursements from their employer due to working at home, but they have to meet specific requirements as follows.

Legal Compliance for Out-of-State Remote Workers

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COVID-19 has made working from home commonplace, with many identifiable benefits from operating with a mostly remote workforce.  Since COVID-19 relegated workers across America to home offices, nonprofit and other employers have realized significant costs savings with a smaller office footprint and also greater opportunities for attracting top-tier job candidates outside their ordinary geographical reach. Such benefits may transform remote work from a temporary solution, to address for workers’ health and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, into predominantly more long-term remote work arrangements. 

Year-End Deadline for Illinois Sexual Harassment Training Program

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Employer alert: If you run a nonprofit or business of any size, make sure to comply with new anti-harassment training requirements by year-end 2020. Just over a year ago, this new requirement was signed into law, as an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act. All Illinois employers of any size must now provide annual sexual harassment prevention training and maintain related records reflecting compliance.  

COVID-Related Paid Leave Requirements: New Employer Guidance

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Effective September 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor has broadened paid leave entitlements under the FFCRA, and modified by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, for health care workers and clarified a number of other employer obligations.  The new rules come after a New York federal court judge struck down the Department of Labor’s initial attempt to provide employers with some clear guidance for operating within the contours of the FFCRA.[1]  The Department of Labor’s updated guidance addresses exclusions for health care providers and important clarifications for all other employers subject to the FFCRA.

EEOC Issues COVID-Related Employment Guidance

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued extensive COVID-related Q&A employment guidance, including initial employee screening, questions that may and may not be asked of employees about their health and medical condition, confidentiality of medical information, remote work in relation to disability considerations, and potential litigation issues. 

Re-Opening: Yet, Not Yet, Somewhere In-Between?

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Gathering in person for nonprofit programs, religious worship, and work: how does a nonprofit engage in these activities mid-pandemic? With masks becoming ubiquitous, people yearning to connect, and Zoom tolerance tiring, nonprofit leaders are taking a variety of approaches for operating amidst coronavirus-related restrictions. In our law practice, we are seeing precautions for religious worship, school activities, and other social service programming.

Enhanced Unemployment Benefits Expire without Congressional Intervention

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This week the additional $600 of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation ("FPUC") authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES") and paid to millions out of work due to the coronavirus is set to expire. Unless Congress reaches a consensus to continue FPUC, unemployment benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels after July 31.

COVID-19 at Work: Symptoms, Contact, Disclosures, What Else?

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What happens when an employee reports COVID-19 symptoms or close contact with another person who has tested positive for COVID-19? Upon receipt of such information, employers must be mindful of their dual obligations: (1) to protect the confidentiality of the employee’s sensitive medical information, and (2) to take reasonable measures to protect all employees’ safety and care, including making careful disclosures. While these obligations may exist in some tension, employers can properly navigate both duties. Here’s how.

Too Much of a Stretch? Bostock's Expansive Ruling on Title VII Sex Discrimination

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On June 15, 2020—the 5th anniversary of the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision recognizing a constitutionally-protected right of same-sex marriage[1] — the U.S. Supreme Court expanded sex-based discrimination to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity for purposes of employment discrimination protection. In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Court determined that when an employer fires an employee because of gender identity or sexual orientation, the employer is effectively firing the person for traits and qualities that would not have been an issue if they were members of the opposite sex. Thus, the Court held in a 6-3 ruling, discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation is discrimination “because of sex” and therefore presents a valid employment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This article summarizes the Court's majority and dissenting opinions, provides several observations, and then discusses Bostock's application such as to religious employers and other nonprofit organizations.

COVID-19 Workplaces: Changes for Policies, Protocols, and Employee Handbooks

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Are your employees coming back to in-person work yet? As states shift forward into new phases that allow nonprofit and other employees to come back to worksites, employers face a plethora of warranted policy changes. High on the list should be to develop and implement a Workplace Health and Cleanliness Operations Policy. In addition, employers may address continued remote work options, such as through a new or updated Remote Work Policy. These important changes should be reflected in modified employee handbooks, at least in summary versions, which should also include policies covering new COVID-19-related Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave.

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