MISSISSIPPI SPECIFIC UPDATE
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY:
Executive Order 1510
Executive Order 1510 was issued by the Governor on July 24, 2020. The provisions are set forth below to provide clarification on certain points:
- This new Executive Order replaces Executive Order 1502 that was signed by the Governor on June 26, 2020.
- Normally, there is a one-week waiting period after you are deemed eligible for unemployment compensation (or “benefits”) before you can be paid benefits. This means that under normal circumstances, you would not receive benefits for the first week after you file your claim. However, due to the COVID-19 Emergency, anyone who files a claim for benefits between March 8, 2020, and December 26, 2020, will be eligible to receive benefits the first week of their claim, without having to wait an extra week.
- In order to receive federal emergency administrative grant money, MDES must require all employers to provide notification of the availability of unemployment compensation to each employee individually at the time of separation of employment.
To review Executive Order 1510, visit https://mdes.ms.gov/media/205115/executiveorder1510.pdf
Supplemental Unemployment Compensation Update
Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) announced that it began paying the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) $300 weekly supplement benefit to qualified claimants for the week ending January 2, 2021.
Returning Employees to Work Update:
ReStart MS is an online system developed by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) to assist the business community in transitioning employees who were separated from the workplace due to COVID-19 back into the workforce.
ReStart MS provides employers with information on employees presently filing or who have previously filed for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Utilizing this system will aid in the prevention of improper unemployment payments and assist in getting the workforce back to work sooner.
|ReStart MS allows employers to report:|
|Refusal of Work|
|Inability to Locate|
|Potential Fraudulent / ID Theft Claims|
Mississippi Law requires employers to report refusals to work within 10 days of the date of refusal.
Reporting this information timely is important, as preventing improper unemployment payments benefits all parties.
For the ex-employees who you are unable to locate, MDES will review the unemployment records and attempt to locate the individuals for referral back to your workplace. An individual who does not respond to MDES is subject to a disqualification for future payments.
Mississippi Employers registered as an Unemployment tax payer may access the system with your existing Unemployment Insurance, ReEmployMS, system User ID and Password or create a User ID and Password using the unique Authorization Code mailed to each Mississippi business.
For more information on the program and access to the system, visit https://mdes.ms.gov/employers/restart-mississippi/
FEDERAL UPDATE- UNITED STATES
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION:
On January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidance for employers to help identify risks of being exposed to and of contracting COVID-19 in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.
This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace.
For guidance, please visit https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR:
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18, 2020. Among numerous COVID-19 related actions, two areas significantly impact small employers: the FFCRA expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act and FFCRA created the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (allowing employers under 500 employees reimbursement of paid sick leave due to coronavirus).
The Department of Labor requires affected employers to post the FFCRA poster in a prominent location in your organization and viewable by all of your employees. The FFCRA poster is available here.
Emergency FMLA Leave Expansion Act and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act:
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) required certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions applied from the effective date through December 31, 2020.
*Note: Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the available credit for this paid sick leave was extended; however the employer Mandate to provide the leave was not extended.
Generally, the Act provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Covered Employers: The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Most employees of the federal government are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was not amended by this Act, and are therefore not covered by the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. However, federal employees covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act are covered by the paid sick leave provision.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
Eligible Employees: All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.
Notice: Where leave is foreseeable, an employee should provide notice of leave to the employer as is practicable. After the first workday of paid sick time, an employer may require employees to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving paid sick time.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave:
Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:
- is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
- is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for expanded family leave if the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.
Duration of Leave:
For reasons (1)-(4) and (6): A full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period.
For reason (5): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at 40 hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.
Calculation of Pay:
For leave reasons (1), (2), or (3): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).
For leave reasons (4) or (6): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).
For leave reason (5): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period).
Supplemental Unemployment Compensation Update
Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) announced that it began paying the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) $300 weekly supplement benefit to qualified claimants for the week ending January 2, 2021. On May 10, 2021, Governor Reeves announced that Mississippi will no longer accept federal supplemental benefits as early as June 12, 2021. Unemployment benefits will return to the levels and calculations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.