April 2 - FAQs on furloughs/layoffs, FFCRA, CARES act, and Electrical Contractor magazine
Once again our area was blessed with beautiful weather and while I didn’t get too many opportunities to get out in it, there’s something uplifting about a sunny day. I hope all of you felt a little better about things today yourselves.
We fielded a number of calls on what to do when someone asks to be laid off or furloughed due to unemployment and in particular if the process is different for apprentices. It isn’t.
Again, if you want to grant a furlough under NDERA, you simply have to send an email to that individual’s business manager and to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This doesn’t communicate anything to the unemployment office, but it does let us know that you want to have that person come back to work for you when things settle down. It will give you recall rights in all of our jurisdictions. In Local 481, you can do this or lay them off and again, you will still retain recall rights.
On the other hand if you have work for someone and they are leaving you despite the offer of work and they have stated that they are afraid of contracting Coronavirus, under the NDERA agreement, they can certainly leave although you don’t need to send in any furlough notice or grant them a layoff if you don’t want to do so. Furlough and layoff are always at the employer’s discretion. And while the NDERA states you can’t contest their unemployment, it doesn’t require you to lie to the state and in fact, you never should. It is absolutely acceptable to note that you did have work for the individual, they did turn it down, and their stated reason for doing so was because a fear of contracting coronavirus.
Although we did field a number of questions on this today, I pointed them to previous blog posts and our other resources. One question I was asked was whether or not the Governor’s stay at home order constitutes a quarantine and is therefore a blanket qualifying event under FFCRA for every Hoosier. This was actually addressed in the Webinar put on by NECA National two days ago and the answer stated by them at that time is no. It doesn’t. I am looking for other corroborating resources on that though because there were a few missteps in that program.
Our other FCRRA question was on whether or not we need to pay pensions. In the Webinar, one of the lawyers sent every Chapter Manager in the country into a hissy fit by saying we needed to pay into NEBF. The following day this appears to have been reversed in the updated FFCRA Q&A. It’s just Health and Welfare and regular rate of pay.
CARES Act Questions
There were only a few of these and some of them dealt with minutiae of the application process that frankly, I’m not qualified to answer. I will urge everyone to make sure you apply for them if you are qualified and most importantly to contact a competent tax or banking person to assist you with which loans to apply for and on how to apply. I am just about certain that these loans officially go live tomorrow so please make you get your PPP loan application in early.
Employee Retention and Job Impact
It was an eventful day as we tried various ideas to try and incentivize our workforce into remaining…a workforce. I won’t go into details about this, but I will say that I don’t fault anyone for trying new ideas and thinking out of the box to keep things going. In point of fact, this took up most of my time today, despite being ultimately unsuccessful.
I will say that the effort was actually discussed in a senior staff meeting at NECA National and might be taken up by other areas.
And this takes us to the impact the massive number of employees leaving the workforce is having on your jobs. Again as I mentioned last night, please go through your contracts to identify your delay provisions, notice requirements and what relief measures are available to you. Given the things I’ve been hearing from some of you, I doubt that delay notices on the prime contracts are being shared with the subs right now and its entirely possible you could lose your rights if you’re not careful. It should go without saying that you should most certainly be in regular contact with your attorney on this to make sure you are best positioned on all of your jobs.
Finally, something a little uplifting
I received the following from National this evening:
Electrical Contractor magazine is looking to highlight NECA contractors doing good work either on their own or partnering with IBEW to do helpful projects during this pandemic. While we are looking for information from contractors of all sizes, we’re especially interested in in hearing about smaller businesses.
What we need is:
Contractor's name and location.
IBEW Local Union they worked with
the work that they did
If possible a quote from a member of the firm. Could be as simple as "We were happy to help," said Larry Beltramo, president of Rosendin, San Jose, Calif.
Just let me know if you’re interested in participating and I’ll send along your info to EC Magazine!
And that’s all for tonight everyone. As always, stay safe and call me if you have any questions.