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  • Wed, April 01, 2020 4:21 PM | Anonymous

    Among the steps taken by Congress, beyond the $2.0 trillion-plus economic package, is “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA) which provides for paid sick leave from April 1, 2020 -- December 31, 2020.  Under the Act, full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) and part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours they work in a two-week period.

    Paid sick leave can be used for the following reasons:

    1.      The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to the coronavirus;

    2.      The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to the coronavirus;

    3.      The employee is experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;

    4.      The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in reason (1) or has been advised as described in reason (2).

    5.      The employee is caring for their child if the child's school or place of care has been closed, or the child's childcare provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus.

    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.

    Employees who go on paid sick leave for reasons (1), (2), or (3) will be paid at their regular rate of pay. Employees who use their leave for reasons (4), (5), or (6) will be paid at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay. In no event, however, shall the paid sick leave exceed $511.00 per day or $5,110.00 in the aggregate for reasons (1), (2), or (3), or $200.00 per day or $2,000.00 in the aggregate for reasons (4), (5), or (6).

    Attached is a SAMPLE template for possible use by your firm’s employees to apply for leave under the FFCRA; and the DOL’s FFCRA Notice which should be posted in a conspicuous place on your premises or emailed to employees working remotely. 

  • Tue, March 31, 2020 12:50 PM | Anonymous

    Part of the $2 trillion emergency pandemic relief bill (CARES Act) is intended to help secure American employees and the businesses that employ them.  Secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, has made a number of public appearances adding some new information and details as to the mechanisms that are being planned to deploy these funds. In sum, the Secretary has noted that there are essentially three components in the new law related to employees:

    (1) Small Business Loans: It is estimated about half of the businesses in the United States will be eligible to obtain small business loans to pay their employees for approximately (8) eight weeks (local banks are being enlisted as the delivery mechanism for those firms eligible);

    (2) Enhanced Unemployment Insurance (UI): The law adds $600 to the normal state UI payment levels for a period of four months. (This has been controversial given the combined amount in some cases could exceed what an individual would normally receive if working). From all indications, employees would file through the normal state unemployment insurance mechanisms to be in line for these payments; and

    (3) Individuals/Family Financial Support: The law provides individuals with incomes under $75,000 with a $1,200 payment, with a prorated amount up to $99,000. Couples who file a joint tax return can get up to $2,400 (income not exceeding $150,000) along with a $500 per child supplement.  The issue has been: how will these payments reach the eligible individuals?  The Secretary has provided some guidance and clarity on this point; namely, the government will look to the 2018 income tax returns.  Those eligible that filed and provided direct deposits banking information on their returns could begin seeing checks deposited to those accounts in about three weeks.  Those that had paper government checks sent to them in 2018, will have longer to wait, but can shorten the time by using a new web-based system that can be uploaded (when ready), so they can get their support sooner without waiting for checks to come in the mail from the IRS.

    Finally, in addition to these three components the Federal Reserve has been authorized to spend $450 billion in loans, etc. to add liquidity to the market place in the hope of keeping firms/businesses afloat until some normalcy returns.

  • Mon, March 30, 2020 3:01 PM | Anonymous

    If your firm has not already been subject to or implemented paid family/medical leave requirements, the new emergency act (i.e., “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” or FFCRA) that passed last week has created new requirements for firms under 500-employees. The Department of Labor (DOL) released initial guidance clarifying several provisions set forth in (FFCRA); including: a model notice, some guidance for handling the notice requirements, along with an updated Questions and Answers (Q&A) document to address many more items [The (Q&A) information and model notice noted below can be helpful to firms of ABOVE 500 employees as well.

    Model Notice

    Private employers with less than 500 employees who are required to comply with the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Expanded FMLA requirements going into effect April 1, 2020 are required to provide employees with information about the paid leave. As with other DOL posters (e.g. FMLA and USERRA), the general requirement is that employers must post the notice in a conspicuous location on their premises. However, the DOL recognized that under the current circumstances, many employees may not be working onsite. Therefore, employers can also satisfy the notice requirement if the notice is made available on the employer’s website, or if the notice is mailed or emailed to employees.
    The model notice, as well as a Q&A providing instructions for the notice can be found here - https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic 

    Additional DOL Questions and Answers

    DOL has provided an updated Q&A documentproviding information on some of the paid leave requirements taking effect on (4/1/2020) and how to count employees for purposes of the 500 employees threshold. The clarifications include, among other things:
    • Documentation requirements for those employees requesting paid leave;
    • The availability of paid leave for employees who are permitted to telework;
    • The availability of paid leave for employees who are furloughed or laid off;
    • When intermittent paid leave may be available;
    • The ability for employees to supplement paid leave with other employer-provided paid leave; and
    • Continuation of group health benefits during and after paid leave.

    There are certainly still questions to be answered. DOL is expect to provide further guidance over the next couple of weeks, but the Q&A document is helpful in supplying some direction for employers who are preparing to comply with these new paid leave requirements next week. [NOTE: The DOL has promised some flexibility around enforcement through April 17, 2020, during which time the DOL indicates it would prefer to work with employers to help them understand and comply with the requirements. Employers will not be penalized for failure to comply during this period if the employer is making reasonable, good faith efforts to comply].  The updated DOL FAQ can be found here - https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

  • Wed, February 12, 2020 2:53 PM | Anonymous

    The Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 federal budget and appropriations process has begun with the release of the President’s budget request to Congress. The president’s budget proposal is not binding, but rather a reflection of the Administration’s priorities for the year and can serve to inform congressional negotiations over spending decisions and new policy proposals.  With respect to CTE, the budget proposal included nearly $900 million in additional funding directed to career and technical education (CTE). This is composed of a $680 million increase (53%) for Perkins Basic State Grants, approximately $83 million increase (1112.8%) for Perkins National Programs (with a focus on competitive grants for innovation and modernization of programs), and over $100 million in additional funds that could be generated for Perkins through changes to the H-1B visa program. The AP reported in part the CTE spending: “would be a historic federal infusion into a spending area that’s been stagnant for years” . . . (giving what the President believes are strong career paths) . . . “for students as alternatives to a four-year degree.”  However, these spending levels were paired with some decreases to both the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Labor (DOL), wherein the President’s ED budget came in 7.8% lower than the enacted FY 2020 level, while the DOL budget came in 10.7% lower. [Much of the proposed cuts will not likely be included in the final appropriations as they wind through Congress, even if some are warranted given the programs are either outdated, redundant, or ineffectual]. 

    Nevertheless, the new budget request signals a large shift toward prioritizing CTE for the current Administration, (something the Opportunity America Jobs and Career Coalition, including CIRT have advocated). However, as noted both historically and in the current political environment Presidential budgetary requests have not fared well in Congress. Further, the two-year budget deal that was signed into law last year provided only a small increase in Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) funding for FY 2021 (which includes the Departments of Education and Labor). This will make it difficult for Congress to give any NDD program a significant increase. Within this context, the community will need to continue to fight hard, be vocal, and press for CTE spending at levels not seen during the appropriations process.

  • Tue, February 11, 2020 2:48 PM | Anonymous

    Opportunity America, (of which CIRT is a member), is working on a new project with the Urban Institute and a team of consultants whose business is to help companies stand up youth apprenticeship programs. Technical assistance of the kind these consultants provide is usually a fairly pricey option for an employer. But thanks to a generous grant from the US Department of Labor, these consultants are in a position to provide their services for free.  The question is: are any companies interested in the kind of assistance these consultants can provide?  If so, they will work with CIRT to inform our members about what services are available and recruit them for regional meetings with the consultants to explore it further. [NOTE: See the attached one-pager for more detail].

  • Mon, September 30, 2019 1:31 PM | Anonymous

    The overall demographics of the nation’s workforce continues to age, with the number of workers aged 55 and over increasing, while at the same time the number of workers under the age of 25 is decreasing, according to the 2018 Current Population Survey. A recently released report by the National Association of Home Builders confirms that this trend is more acutely affecting the construction industry due to the fact its workforce is older than those in other industries. Workers under the age of 25 represent only 9% of the construction workforce in 2018, whereas workers age 55 and over increased from 17% in 2011 to a staggering 22% only seven years later in 2018.

    With this aging workforce, member firms must keep in mind the application of: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as requirements imposed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), [in addition to any similar state law].

    The ADEA prohibits discrimination in the workplace of employees who are aged 40 or older; while The ADA prohibits discrimination in the workplace against qualified employees who have a physical or mental impairment. The ADA also require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to allow disabled employees to perform the essential functions of their job. Reasonable accommodations under the ADA may include reducing or having flexible hours or restructuring workload and job duties. Such accommodations can help encourage skilled and talented age-protected employees to remain with their employer longer.

  • Wed, September 25, 2019 1:29 PM | Anonymous

    NAC Safety White Paper No. 48, “NAC Recognizes Known Contractors Achieving One Million Workhours with Zero OSHA Recordable Injuries” was recently released showing the firms reaching this impressive milestone according to OSHA records.  (See, Safety White Paper No. 48).

  • Wed, March 06, 2019 12:48 PM | Anonymous

    “Safe + Sound,” OSHA's year-round campaign to encourage every workplace to have a safety and health program, includes both employers and workers.  Employers are encouraged to participate in quarterly events to develop effective safety and health programs in their workplaces. Participants can learn about best practices during webinars and put them into action during the 30-day challenges. These events also focus on management leadership, worker involvement, as well as finding and fixing hazards. CIRT member firms can share their safety successes during Safe + Sound Week (August 12-18, 2019).  If interested, sign up on the Safe + Sound website.

  • Tue, January 01, 2019 12:47 PM | Anonymous

    The goal of Build Your Future (BYF) is to change the perceptions that parents, teachers, counselors, and other influencers have about careers in construction with the ultimate goal being to recruit more young people into the community/industry. To accomplish this, BYF seeks to use non-traditional but proven media methods to push out and spread messages: social media and YouTube; geo-targeting; and behavior targeting.  Check out www.byf.org

    As interest is generated by  Build Your Future (from a robust social media campaign/videos, etc.), a website is needed -- www.discovery.byf.org -- to drive people to it that contains the key concepts the BYF is trying to instill about construction careers. The website was designed specifically for parents, teachers, counselors and others to provide information on careers in construction in a way that resonates with them.

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