Marijuana Business Magazine May-June 2020

Marijuana Business Magazine | May-June 2020 50 S ince Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act as well as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, cannabis employers have been seeking clarity regarding obligations to their employees and their ability to access employer benefits in the form of loans and tax credits. The issue is particularly pressing for medical and adult-use cannabis retailers who have been deemed “essential” and who are trying to balance consumer- service objectives and the health and well-being of their employees during an unprecedented public health crisis. Here are some of the most frequent questions we have received regarding these novel workplace challenges. Please note nothing in this story should be con- strued as legal advice. Businesses should consult with counsel to obtain additional information and advice based on individ- ual facts and circumstances. Does the Families First Act require employers to provide additional paid leave to employees? If so, what employees are eligible? Yes. The Families First Act created two additional paid leave provisions for employers with fewer than 500 employ- ees: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave (EPFMLA). These provisions apply from April 1 through Dec. 31, 2020. Employees are eligible to take EPSL leave for a total of two weeks after Day One of employment. However, an employee can take EPSL leave only if they are unable to work or telework because the employee: 1. Is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19. 2. Has been advised by a health-care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19. 3. Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis. 4. Is caring for an individual subject or advised to quarantine or self-isolate. 5. Is caring for a son or daughter whose school/child-care provider is unavailable. 6. Is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days before their leave request might also be eligible for an additional 10 weeks of partially paid leave under EPFMLA if they are unable to work or telework based on reason No. 5. Please note that businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from certain EPSL and EPFMLA requirements related to school or child-care provider unavailability for coronavirus-related reasons if providing an employee such leave would jeopardize the viability of the business. Additional guidance is available through the U.S. Department of Labor. What are employers’ duties to employees who are unwilling to come to work due to concerns over exposure to COVID-19? As a preliminary matter, all employers should make every effort to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sanitation guidelines and social-distancing guidelines to alleviate employee concerns. If employees are still uncomfortable appearing for work but do not qualify for EPSL, employers may allow the By Joshua Kappel and Meg Nash LEGAL INSIGHT What Cannabis Employers Need to Know About COVID-19 Joshua Kappel Meg Nash EDITOR’S NOTE: TO VIEWAWEBCAST ABOUT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AVAILABLE TO MARIJUANA BUSINESSES, VISIT MJBIZDAILY.COM/CRISIS-MANAGEMENT-IN-CANNABIS. Pandemic Pivot