Common Coronavirus Legal Questions – Arizona

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Recently, we have had various inquiries about coronavirus-related legal questions. As a result, we thought it would be helpful to share our answers to common questions for everyone’s benefit. If you have additional questions after reading through this, please contact us at (480) 744-6621 or at request@counxel.com.

When do the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Laws go into effect?

They are set to go into effect on April 2, 2020.

If we have to, can we let employees go now?

So long as you do not have a discriminatory/retaliatory reason for letting someone go, all at-will employees can be let go at any time. It would be good to review this on a case-by-case basis. Some things to consider are:

Has the employee reported a violation of state or federal law or alleged any form of discrimination against the company?

Is the employee currently taking paid sick leave?

Do you understand that the employee will be eligible to request unemployment benefits?

Are you, as the employer, required to give 60 days notice of layoffs under the Warn Act?

Do you, as the employer, have the appropriate Health Benefits COBRA Notices read to give to employees (Federal COBRA law requires COBRA Notices when Employer has 20 or more employees, the relatively new Arizona Mini-COBRA law requires COBRA notices when the employer has 1-20 employees)?

Can we furlough employees now instead of letting them go?

Yes. You can furlough employees. However, the same questions from above apply.

If we lease a commercial space, can we get a rent reduction?

This will depend on the landlord, but it cannot hurt to ask.

What do I do if one of my employees has coronavirus? Do I need to tell other employees/clients?

Yes. You need to let other employees and clients who had contact with that employee know that they may have been exposed. However, you cannot release the name of the employee who has the coronavirus to others (even if it is obvious to others), unless it is a public health official. That would be a violation of HIPAA laws.

Can I take my employees’ temperatures when they report to work?

Yes. The EEOC just released guidance temporarily allowing for this practice so long as the temperature check is: 1) done by someone who has been trained to properly administer the test (doesn’t need to be a medical professional), 2) the information is kept confidential, and 3) the information is not stored by the company.

Can I require that an employee get tested for the coronavirus before they get time off?

No. The individual is entitled to paid time off while awaiting testing.  Additionally, due to the shortage of tests, it is unlikely that the employee will undergo testing quickly.

Can I send employees home if they show signs of the coronavirus, such as coughing and/or a fever?

Yes. You can ask that employees go home and stay home until their temperatures drop below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 24 hours. You can also ask that they see their doctors, but understand that this will likely take a long time, and, under the new paid sick leave law, they are entitled to up to eighty hours paid time off for the time that they are waiting to be tested.

Can I require that an employee get tested for the coronavirus before coming back to work?

No. Due to the lack of tests available, you cannot require that a person be tested before coming back to work. You can, however, require that they be symptom-free before they return to work. The CDC issued guidance that people with coronavirus symptoms are able to discontinue home isolation in the following instances: 1) when at least 72 hours has passed since the resolution of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and improvement in respiratory symptoms, and 2) when at least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Can employees refuse to come to work due to fear of the coronavirus?

Under Arizona Paid Sick Leave law, employees can take up to three days of paid leave without questioning. Under OSHA, employees have the right to refuse to go to work if they, in good faith, believe that the work environment presents an imminent danger (i.e. a reasonable person would agree that there is real danger of death or personal injury). Here, the fact that COVID-19 exists is not likely enough to create an imminent danger. However, if another employee has the coronavirus, then it is likely they could as well. This should be answered on a case-by-case basis.

We hope this helps. We have invested significant time and energy in an effort to make this uncharted territory simpler to navigate. We have also prepared multiple policies and forms to help guide your compliance process and reduce your potential liability. The below policies and forms are made available at a reduced flat rate for our current clients:

Emergency Paid Sick and Family Leave Packet – Policies and Forms

           • Emergency Paid Sick Leave Policy

           • Emergency Paid FMLA Leave Policy

           • Emergency Paid Sick Leave Form

           • Emergency FMLA Form

           • Affidavit of Family Relationship Form

Rent Concession Form

Notice of Furlough Due to Coronavirus Form

Coronavirus Prevention Policy

Coronavirus Reporting Policy

Contact Counxel Legal Firm

Again, please contact us at (480) 744-6621 or at request@counxel.com. Don’t forget to check out the good things that others are saying about the services they received from Timothy Coons on Google.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice for your specific situation. Use of and access to this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Counxel Legal Firm. Please contact request@counxel.com or (480) 744-6621 to request specific information for your situation.

*Conveniently located off the 101 Freeway and the US 60 in the middle of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Queen Creek!

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