COVID-19: Labor, and Worker Health & Safety Resources
What should my company do if an employee gets sick?
A multi-association group developed guidance continues to be updated to be aligned with CDC and FDA recommendations. The most recent version can always be found at www.feedingus.org. The US Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) addresses this issue here.
Where can I get more hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment?
Hand sanitizer is in short supply. Here are two resources you can use to find a distillery near you that is producing hand sanitizer:
- List of Distilleries Making Hand Sanitizer to Fight COVID-19 from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
- Map of Distilleries Making Hand Sanitizer from The American Distilling Institute
United Fresh was invited as one of five “industry representatives” to the National Resource Coordination Center of FEMA/ Department of Homeland Security’s supply chain workgroup food subgroup and continues to work to find solutions for members.
CDC has a “PPE burn rate calculator” that can be adapted to help companies manage their PPE.
How can I encourage employee practices?
Several associations have developed resources that can be used with employees. These are a few:
- Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University Food Facility COVID-19 Checklist
- California Strawberry Commission’s Employee Poster Best Practices
- American Mushroom Institute’s Employee Poster Best Practices: English
- American Mushroom Institute’s Employee Poster Best Practices: Spanish
- United Fresh, AFFI and Western Growers, with input from FDA and CDC, developed guidance specific to harvesting and shared housing
IRS launches employee retention credit
The Treasury Department and IRS today, April 1, 2020, began implementing the Employee Retention Credit included in the coronavirus economic package signed into law last week. The program provides a fully refundable tax credit for 50 percent of wages, up to $10,000, for each employee kept on the payroll by businesses that have taken a financial hit because of the pandemic.
Businesses qualify if they have been fully or partially shuttered by government order, or if their gross receipts are below 50 percent of what they took in during a comparable quarter in 2019. They are no longer eligible once their gross receipts rise above 80 percent of the comparable quarter.
The IRS published guidelines today, April 1, 2020, for businesses that want to apply for the credit, which is applied against the employers’ share of payroll taxes.
The agency also issued a notice to shield employers from penalties they may have incurred for failing to deposit employment taxes when tapping a tax credit Congress created to help them cover wages for sick leave and family leave.
Temporary paid leave and family medical leave
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act created new temporary paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) programs that are 100% reimbursable by the federal government. Click here to view the U.S. Department of Labor’s guidance.
How does COVID-19 impact H-2A?
On April 9, 2020, the Department of Labor issued a third round Frequently Asked Questions document addressing H-2A.
As a result of our efforts, a number of important steps have been taken related to our workforce. As of March 27, H-2A and H-2B workers will be allowed to enter the U.S. as members of the essential ag workforce.
We live in a fast-paced, 24-7 world. In March, that world stopped. But not our world. We were just getting started. We’ve always known our industry’s most valuable asset. And now the world does too. They are the essential workers who work every day to bring fresh produce from farm to table around the world. To them, we say, “Thank you.”