Being an employer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is new territory for every business leader today. As business owners look into as much information as possible to help effectively assist their employees through this circumstance, there’s one crucial aspect that should not be overlooked.
Benefits are the security net people depend on during times of uncertainty, and it’s imperative as an employer to communicate what employees have access to, regardless of whether they are working from home or in an essential position that requires them to be on site.
Employers should assess short-term disability, paid-time off policies, layoff provisions, and medical coverage. Since the current circumstances have taken a lot of jobs, businesses may be hiring now in efforts to stabilize the unemployment rate as states open up in phases, and they need to know what benefits employees need.
Here is a little more insight from our McAllen CFOs at Murray & Kirchner, LLC.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
For many, telecommuting and self-isolation is a tough transition to make. When you consider that on top of the state of crisis the world is in, the anxiety can be overwhelming.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can serve as an invaluable resource right now to help employees manage stress and anxiety, and aid their mental state. EAPs grant employees access to confidential conversations online or on the phone with professionals, whether it’s for financial guidance, counseling, or other resources. It can be a beneficial tool to help employees handle their emotions, especially for those working in isolation remotely.
If organizations provided gym membership reimbursements or wellness programs, those would be vital for employees working on their mental and physical health. It’s pressing now more than ever that employees commit to the same routine they did prior to work-from-home mandates being enacted, as is the case for most states, and that involves getting proper exercise.
There are various studies that link mental and physical health. Some fitness centers are open, but for those who feel more comfortable working out from the comfort and safety of their home, employers can get creative by finding free online resources to offer their employees access virtually.
Telehealth utilizes email, videoconferencing, or phone calls to help care for sick patients from home. This benefit is crucial right now, as both federal and state governments advise people to stay home.
Taking advantage of telehealth services gives employees who may be at risk of developing severe complications because of COVID-19 an outlet to seek medical services for their conditions without going to the doctor where they may be exposed to the virus.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was expanded on March 18. The new legislation, referred to as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, applies to organizations with less than 500 employees and to employees who have worked at these covered companies for at least 30 days.
It offers employees 12 weeks of partially compensated FMLA leave to take care of a child whose school or childcare has been closed due to COVID-19. The other component of this new legislation requires employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick time to employees under particular conditions listed in the legislature.
If you’re among those employers with less than 500 employees, make sure to address these adjustments to employees. If your company has more than 500 employees and this change doesn’t apply, it is still important to mention the FMLA coverage that is available to your employees.
Certified Public Accountants and VCFOs Available to Answer All Questions Regarding Your Business and Finances
There are plenty of resources employees can take advantage of, and it’s critical as an employer to discuss and answer any concerns that your employees may have regarding access.
When you consult with Murray & Kirchner, LLC, we can help you find ways to keep your business running while being a fair employer to your current and potential employees during these unpredictable times.
If you have any questions about what types of benefits you should offer your employees amidst the pandemic, our virtual CFO’s would be happy to assist you with your options.