April 1, 2020 – Among the many legal issues triggered by the coronavirus pandemic are the employment law-related issues that businesses face as doors are shuttered and workforces continue remotely, if that’s possible, or look at their options moving forward.
Nilesh Patel is an employment lawyer living in New York City and a Nonresident Lawyers Division member of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
This week, Patel presented a webcast on “Counseling Employers During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” one of a number of coronavirus-related continuing legal education programs that State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® has assembled to keep members informed.
State Bar Legal Writer Joe Forward chatted with Patel after the session to get insight on what employment lawyers are dealing with and how they can best help their clients.
“The first thing is educating clients on what this pandemic means and how long it could last,” Patel said. “There’s a lot of confusion about whether this is a one-month closure, a two-month closure. What I’m telling my clients is to plan for a 12- to 18-month period.”
Patel said employers should create an immediate plan that may deal with how to get through the next quarter by saving resources and supporting staff. But employers should also be looking at two or three quarters from now, and even farther out.
“That’s what I’m telling them to do, a fiscal analysis for sustaining and protecting their business over a six-quarter period,” Patel said.
What Do They Want to Know Right Now?
Right now, businesses are closing down and losing revenue, Patel said.
“We don’t have revenues, we can’t have staffing costs. Do I do a layoff, a furlough? They are asking for guidance on those issues,” he said.
Patel noted that a lot of businesses are considered essential businesses, so they are asking questions about what they need to do to keep employees safe.
Patel also noted there’s a lot of federal legislation coming out right now, such as legislation that mandates paid leave. Businesses are asking about it. In his session, Patel covered a lot of ground on new legislation and what it means for employers.
Upcoming Coronavirus-Related Webinars
State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE is busy planning coronavirus-related webinars to help practioners stay informed on new laws, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and practice management issues. Upcoming programs include.
Employer Considerations for Telecommuters
March 25 - April 3 | 12 - 12:50 p.m.
Assessing the Employment Impacts of H.R. 6201 – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
March 27 - April 10 | 12 - 12:50 p.m.
Business Continuity and Disaster Planning for COVID-19
March 26 - April 13 | 12 - 12:50 p.m.
Ethics & Logistical Considerations during COVID-19 Response
March 27 - April 15 | 12 - 12:50 p.m.
Outbreak: Public Health & Due Process
March 27 - May 8 | 12 - 1 p.m.
Counseling Employers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
March 30 – April 24 | 4 - 5 p.m.
Employee Benefits Issues Raised by the COVID-19 Pandemic
April 3 - May 6 | 12 - 1:30 p.m.