Legal Blog

Batista’s Workplace Beat – October 2020


Time Off to Vote

The election is less than two weeks away, are you required to provide employees time off to vote?

The presidential election is nearing. As we have seen from the long lines for early voting and the concern over mail in ballots, getting to the polls may prove difficult for many people. Currently, thirty (30) states require that employers afford their employees some paid time off to vote. And, many employers like Old Navy, Warby Parker and Compass Coffee, are providing employees paid time to vote. Neither Pennsylvania nor New Jersey require employers to provide their employees with paid time off to vote. However, in New York and Maryland, employees who are registered to vote are entitled to two hours of paid time off to vote, with some restrictions depending on their work schedule on election day. Irrespective of the laws, many employers have announced that they are either making the day a paid holiday, not scheduling any meetings, ensuring employees have at least a two-hour break or are otherwise ensuring employees have the opportunity to vote. Whether you are required to or not, it’s a small gesture that may go a long way with employees.


 Young businessman working with laptop at office

FFCRA and Other Sick Leave Updates

Can’t keep up with the DOL, state and local sick leave updates during COVID-19? Here are a few tips…

Because the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was pushed through quickly, the DOL has since issued and reissued regulations giving guidance on the new law. In addition, some states and cities have enacted their own laws to provide employees ample leave during the pandemic. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when considering application of these new laws to your workforce:

  1. FFCRA is the federal law and it applies to all companies nationwide, who are under 500 employees, with a hardship exception for companies with less than 50 employees. Keep in mind that the hardship exception does not automatically apply to smaller companies; you’ll need to actually prove compliance is not feasible for your business.
  2. Make sure you know the revised definition of health care provider under FFCRA. The first definition set forth by the DOL swept with a broad brush. It has since been modified to include a much smaller group of employees, namely doctors, nurses or others who actually provide health care services, as well as anyone who provides diagnostic, preventative or patient care services.
  3. FFCRA does not apply to employees who have been furloughed. Rather, covered employers are only required to provide FFCRA leave to employees who would otherwise have work available to them.
  4. FFCRA leave may be taken intermittently for only certain of the enumerated reasons, and the employer and employee must always first agree to intermittent use. Meaning, employers have discretion in how FFCRA leave may be taken.
  5. Philadelphia just passed Public Health Emergency Sick Leave, which essentially fills in the gap left by FFCRA, as it provides leave for the same reasons, but only applies to employers with less than 500 employees. Philadelphia’s ordinance requires employers with 500 or more employees to provide up to 112 hours of paid sick leave under certain circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic to Philadelphia employees for the below reasons.
  6. Philadelphia also passed the Health Care Employee Pandemic Paid Sick Leave. This requires that certain health care employers be compensated should they miss work due to contracting COVID-19.


Medical cannabis or marijuana plant held by grower wearing gloves

Are You Wearing That?

With activism booming and many employees still working from home, your workforce might need a reminder that the dress code isn’t just anything goes.

With the long list of issues for employers to address, dress code might not be top of mind. However, it’s one area where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. First, with respect to political and social speech, employers are wise to restrict employees from wearing attire and accessories that support any political candidate, political or social organizations or movements. A blanket policy is best because it relieves employers from determining which social or political groups have potentially discriminatory or inflammatory messages; a task I wouldn’t recommend businesses take on. One caveat to this though, is that employees cannot be prohibited from showing their union support, as it’s protected by the NLRA. Also, now that employees are working from home frequently, it’s a good time to set expectations for attire Zoom or Teams meetings. The same prohibitions above should apply, and it’s a good time to remind employees that clients may still be seeing them – even if just the top half of them – and professionalism is still required.


Ms. Batista is an employment & labor attorney who provides businesses with advice and risk mitigation strategies, and zealous representation in litigation. She frequently represents businesses in the hospitality, financial services, automotive dealership, engineering and architecture and healthcare industries. Specifically, Ms. Batista successfully defends employers against claims of discrimination and harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour violations. Ms. Batista also commonly represents her clients in actions involving employee mobility and trade secret theft. Employment and labor law is ever-changing. Employers need to feel secure in how they manage their employees so they can focus on their business. Ms. Batista affords her clients that security.






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