Take COVID-19 Sick Leave Requirements Seriously

The following warning comes from Bob Milligan, a dairy labor and leadership specialist with Dairy Strategies, Inc.: “I do not believe we in production agriculture are taking the health and perhaps even legal threats [of COVID 19] seriously enough.”

Businesses with 1 to 499 employees must follow rules outlined in the Department of Labor poster available here. “The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that sick employees do not come to work and to financially assist their employers – you,” he says.” Legally you are obligated to follow these regulations; however, I encourage you to do it to protect you, your employees, and your farm.

“I have visited with my agribusiness friends and my son who is the Human Resource director for a medium-size company. They are all taking much greater precautions,” says Milligan.

”For example, have you posted the legally required poster for employee rights for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (below)?” 

Milligan says it is imperative that you:

• Protect your business from a calamity like the one that has hit many packing plants.

• Follow the rules and guidelines for combating COVID-19.

• Keep scrupulous records so your business can be credited for the expenses covered under the new laws.

Milligan notes that whenever an employee has COVID-19, they are entitled to two additional weeks of paid sick leave. You, however, can recoup this expense by reducing your Federal employee tax deposits.

The law also requires sick leave at 2/3 pay for several reasons related to COVID-19, he says. There is a provision for this part of the law to exempt businesses with less than 50 employees when that payment will result in undue financial hardship. The hardship exemption details are not yet determined, says Milligan.

Again, you can link to the Department of Labor poster available here.