AGC Coronavirus Resources – AGC-GM

AGC Coronavirus Resources

SHARE

We’ve been in contact with the AGC of America since last week concerning the coronavirus. We were particularly interested in understanding what actions they have taken on issues centered around paid sick leave, reportable incidents under OSHA regulations and other related issues. Below you will find essential information we’ve gathered from the AGC of America regarding the corona virus as well as links to our most recent AGC-GM updates.

AGC of Greater Milwaukee Coronavirus Updates

NEW! US DOL Publishes New Federal Paid Leave Guidance Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employers about meeting their requirements to offer emergency paid sick leave and paid family medical leave offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.

The guidance – provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers document – addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.

US DOL releases this FFCRA poster, which outlines details of the new, temporary, paid sick and family medical leave programs established as part of the federal response to the coronavirus.

NEW! Defense and Civilian Agencies Respond to AGC’s Request for Guidance for Direct Federal Contractors
USACE, GSA, and others provide guidance and planning for potential contract impacts due COVID-19. To read more, please click here.

NEW! AGC, Others, Push OSHA to Stop Treating Coronavirus Positives as Reportable Incidents & Calls for Flexibility for Firms Running Short of N95 Masks
AGC, along with our industry partners on the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), is pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to re-evaluate its decision to treat cases of employees contracting COVID-19 as recordable incidents. Instead, healthcare providers should be required to report these cases on their logs because they are in direct contact with people with confirmed cases and are at greatest risk.

At the same time, we are pushing OSHA to provide flexibility in enforcement with respect to respirator use due to the growing shortage of N95 respirators. For example, OSHA should consider allowing job rotation to reduce exposures to employees who may not have access to the appropriate masks. For more information, and to view a copy of the AGC/CISC letter, click here.

NEW! Construction as an Essential Industry
The federal government recently released a list detailing “critical infrastructure industries” whose workers are “essential” and should continue normal work schedules. Although the document lists industries for which construction is absolutely critical, our industry was not explicitly included. Even though the list “is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard in and of itself,” some states have/are considering it for determining which industries can go to work amid state and local COVID-19 responses to shelter in place, among other policies.

AGC of America has continually sought to make clear that our industry is essential to responding to and recovering from this virus in the following ways:

  • Received broad media coverage of its release detailing how counter intuitive it is to shut down construction projects and the industry itself during a pandemic.
  • Partnered with the buildings trades unions in a joint release—showing that management and labor agree—that construction must be included as an essential service able to operate during COVID-19-related shutdowns.
  • Partnered with construction business organizations in a letter to the White House in underscoring the essential need for the construction industry to work during this crisis.
    Communicated to the Republican and Democratic Governors’ Associations these same messages.

Please join us in telling President Trump and Congress to treat the construction industry and the work it performs as vital and essential to the critical industries that must remain in operation to respond to this pandemic and crises to come. To ensure this is the case, the federal government must issue guidance classifying construction as a critical infrastructure industry whose workers are essential. Click here and simply submit the pre-written message as is to President Trump and your members of Congress or customize it with personal information on how this issue impacts you and your employer. You can view the real-time activity on this action alert here.

NEW! Take Action: Tell Congress to Protect Construction Jobs and Markets!
The Senate could vote on a new $2 TRILLON+ COVID-19 relief package shortly. Negotiations are extremely fluid. On March 20, AGC of America shared it’s priorities and policy proposals in a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and received confirmation from key legislators and officials that many of our priorities are part of the fast-paced negotiations. Our priorities include but are not limited to:

Protecting our members’ cash flows and access to capital;
Infusions of funding into direct federal and federal-aid construction accounts;
Enacting multi-year reauthorizations of federal and federal-aid construction programs; and
Maintaining the viability of multiemployer pension and health plans on which millions of participants, retirees and contributing employers depend.

Please join us in telling Congress to take immediate action. Click here and simply submit the pre-written message as is to your members of Congress or customize it with personal information on how this issue impacts you and your employer. You can view the real-time activity on this action alert here.

NEW! Update on Federal Paid Leave Mandates under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201
On March 20, Treasury, IRS and DOL announced their intent to implement these new mandates. Items to note:

  • SMALL BUSINESS EXEMPTIONS: It appears that guidance/regulations will be issued from the Secretary of Labor to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the leave requirements relating to school closings or child care unavailability where the requirements would jeopardize the ability of the business to continue. The exemption will be available on the basis of simple and clear criteria that make it available in circumstances involving jeopardy to the viability of an employer’s business as a going concern.
  • PROMPT PAYMENT FROM IRS TO EMPLOYERS MANDATED TO PROVIDE LEAVE: Under guidance that will be released next week, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick or child care leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS. The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees. If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and child care leave paid, employers will be able file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less. The details of this new, expedited procedure will be announced next week.

NEW! Summary of Paid Leave Mandates under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201
On March 18, 2020, Congress approved and the president signed into law legislation that includes mandates for employer-fronted federal paid leave—emergency sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave described below. These requirements take effect on April 2, 2020, and sunset on December 31, 2020. However, the legislative environment remains fluid. The Senate could consider altering these paid leave mandates in a COVID-19 economic investment bill, a third COVID-19 relief bill. Such a measure could pass within days and would then need to be considered by the House before it became law. As such, please note that the information in this document is potentially subject to change before it takes effect.
Read more.

NEW! AGC Survey of State DOT Response to COVID-19
AGC chapters report that generally speaking most state DOT construction programs are moving ahead as scheduled and are not directly impacted by COVID-19 related shutdowns. Many state office personnel are telecommuting but, in most states, construction inspectors are considered essential and, therefore, are reporting to work and visiting on-going projects.
Read more.

NEW! Defense and Civilian Agencies Respond to AGC’s Request for Guidance for Direct Federal Contractors
USACE, GSA, and others provide guidance and planning for potential contract impacts due COVID-19. To read more, please click here.

NEW! COVID-19 Best Practices for Construction Jobsites
Personal Responsibilities
Social Distancing
Jobsite / Office Practices
Managing Sick Employees
Government Resources
Vendor Resources
For detailed practices, click here and here.

OSHA Provides Guidance on Recording Workplace Exposures to COVID-19
OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.

COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met:

The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).
For more information, click here.

AGC Opposes House-Passed Paid Leave Proposal
In a March 16, 2020 letter to the Senate, AGC stressed the need to address the 14 weeks of employer-fronted paid leave mandated under the House-passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Corona virus Response Act, and to offer workable solutions.

AGC cannot support a Senate product that includes this House-passed proposal in H.R. 6201 and reserves the right to record the vote on legislation including such a proposal as an AGC “Key Vote” for the education of its membership.

To read the complete letter, click here. Tell Your U.S. Senators to Oppose Employer-Fronted Paid Leave Mandate here.

AGC has assembled general guidance and links to information from our federal agency partners and health organizations. AGC will continue to monitor the situation and update the information on this page accordingly.

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV(link is external), SARS-CoV(link is external), and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2). The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in China and some limited person-to-person transmission has been reported in countries outside China, including the United States. However, respiratory illnesses like seasonal flu, are currently widespread in many US communities.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure*:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

*This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses.

Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or onging community spread of COVID-19.

What Should Employers Do?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging businesses to begin preparations for the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States. In order to assist you in these preparations, you are encouraged to take the following steps:

  • Educate your employees
  • Follow the CDC recommendations for employers:
    • Employer Guidance: PREPARE NOW.
    • Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette, and hand hygiene by all employees.
    • Perform routine environmental cleaning.
    • Update your absenteeism policy and communicate the requirements.
    • Update your work from home policy and communicate the requirements.
  • Planning Considerations
    • Prepare for increased absenteeism
      • Cross train employees to handle other functions
      • Encourage employees to develop contingency plans for child care in the event there are long term closures of schools and day care centers
    • Prepare for business interruption
      • Identify alternative suppliers
      • Prioritize certain customers
      • Prepare to shut down certain functions

Additional Resources