U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia on COVID-19 relief
April 24, 2020 - U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia headlined a call with business leaders yesterday regarding the Department's efforts to assist businesses in complying with new requirements and relief efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Secretary Scalia said he recognized the recently high unemployment numbers and difficult circumstances created for businesses by the pandemic. He said prior to the pandemic, the country was experiencing what President Trump called a "blue collar boom." Secretary Scalia expressed optimism that the “economic pause” would be short term and that the nation will be able to bounce back (a “blue collar bounce back”). He cited two supporting factors:
The unemployment numbers are not high because of an underlying weakness in the economy, but because of a health crisis; and,
The President has made a plan that will allow the United States economy to safely reopen.
John Pallasch, Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration of the USDOL, provided an overview of Unemployment Insurance programs related to COVID-19, including the bonus unemployment payments of $600, the ability of gig workers and the self-employed to obtain unemployment benefits, as well as dislocated worker grants. He also said the USDOL is working with various states on technical issues, including websites that been overloaded with former workers seeking benefits.
Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, OSHA, said OSHA has worked with CDC on inter-agency efforts related to COVID-19 and has issued guidance regarding when COVID-19 is a reportable incident.
Cheryl Stanton, Administrator, USDOL Wage and Hour Division, spoke about paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and how the Division was helping employers understand their responsibilities and obtain funding for such leave. The Division has issued guidance and is now providing stakeholder outreach events to provide additional information.
LINKS TO VALUABLE RESOURCES
The U.S. Department of Labor has published a Coronavirus Resource page containing all relevant COVID-19 guidance, frequently asked questions, and press releases. You may also obtain agency-specific COVID-19 information through the following links:
Employment and Training Administration – This website outlines the unemployment insurance resources available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It also describes the process for filing an unemployment insurance claim in the state where you worked.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration – The OSHA website offers a variety of resources (alerts, interim enforcement guidance, control and prevention, etc.) designed to protect American workers from COVID-19.
Wage and Hour Division – The WHD website provides fact sheets, posters, and frequently asked questions on implementing new Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family Medical Leave.
We encourage you to share these resources with appropriate stakeholders in your community. Please contact me with any questions or concerns.
Additional information may be obtained by contacting Kevin Corlew, Regional Representative, Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, at (816) 285-7235.