Covid-19 Compliance Issues & Staffing Companies

Big responsibilities in a chaotic situation: “It’s complicated”, during this pandemic, to be compliant with local, state, and federal regulations. This is especially true for staffing companies. Under the “joint employer” principle established in 2013-14 by OSHA, staffing companies are now obligated to keep their own business locations safe as well as ensuring that their client’s job sites are also safe. (Clients certainly have responsibility for workers at theirown jobsites as well, i.e., “joint” responsibility)

This “Joint Employer” principle has since been affirmed and re-affirmed by the courts as late as 2020.

Part of the current situation that is causing some chaos is the concept of “Federalism”. This,in ordinary times works very well and is an important part of our constitutional form of government.

Basically, ”federalism” allows for a sharing of power between the state and federal government. Britannica’s online encyclopedia adds some important ideas to this definition.

But quite specifically, the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that “the powers not delegated to the United States, by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states . . . “ One of these powers (according to the Britannica article) not delegated to the federal government, nor prohibited to the states, is “to protect public health”.

Each individual state is in control: It seems that the states are in primary control in protecting public health. So, the answer to the question of “who’s in charge”is“they all are”.

The CDC “Center for Disease Control& Prevention) as well as the NIH (National Institute of Health) have supportive yet subordinate roles.

The current pandemic, that affects every state in the union, has an abundance of mitigation and control procedures along with associated opinions and disagreements.

We hear every day that one state is opening restaurant swithout restrictions, in another state theaters open partially, in another they eliminate mask wearing, then schools are open, partially or completely, in a while in many other areas,they are closed.

Many of these differing mitigation policies happen in states with equal incidences of Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and death rates. CDC complains, cautions, and cajoles but many states ignore their recommendations. They have a right to.

The situation is additionally chaotic for staffing companies serving several states. Even staffing agencies serving a single state often work with different industries within that state and there are differing requirements for each.

So, whether serving several states or just one, being on top of all the Covid-19 regulationsis and has been a huge challenge!

 

The Solution?

Without attempting to oversimplify or be cute, the solution to the current situation is . . . . to “manage”. In normal times management is simply hard work.In the present circumstances’ management is nearly a chaotic, battlefield experience.

And now there are two objectives. One is to accomplish the basic mission of the business and the new one is to survive!

I have no comment here on the basic mission of the business. But I would like to make a couple of brief suggestions on survival.

A good start would be to encourage and facilitate all staff, both core and contract, to get vaccinated. Make sure everyone has the information on how, where, and when to get signed up. Accomplishing this will make your office and your client’s facilities safer, as well as contribute to the safety of the larger community.

For the newer compliance issues, it might be a good idea to assign one person to be responsible for keeping track of all state and local regulations. That person should make sure your company is on all notification lists so you will have direct notice of any new or changed regulations. There have been many changes!

Someone else could be responsible for collecting all known employee Covid-19 benefits which are, or may become, available together with the rules for eligibility (Covid-19 related family leave, childcare, etc.).

Eligibility rules are often based upon full time or part-time which are further defined as the average number of hours worked. Your staffing software will allow you to pull the required data together quickly and easily. Ditto for financial aid applications.

Since “Survival” in a financial sense is also a risk in the current crisis, your accountant, and/ or banker, should be able to advise you on financial aid available to your company from city, county, state, and federal agencies.

Overall, and since we cannot escape it, I believe this pandemic should be looked at as an opportunity to develop some real, “battle hardened”, executive leadership! When it is over you will then have a great team ready to accomplish anything.

Stay Safe!

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