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Re-Opening Guidance for St. Louis City & St. Louis County

Effective May 18th, St. Louis City and St. Louis County, in coordination with the Economic Development Partnership, will begin navigating toward the re-opening of our community.  Here you will find their most current guidance for businesses and individuals as of May 12th, 2020.  As always, for the most recent developments and updates please visit the following:

opens in a new windowSt. Louis City – COVID-19 Coronavirus Information
opens in a new windowSt. Louis County News & Updates

St. Louis City Re-Opening Guidance (as of May 12, 2020):

opens in a new windowHealth Commissioner’s Order #8
Phase I Reopening Standards and Guidance was originally posted on 5/8/2020, and updated on 5/11/2020 to include the Health Commissioner’s Order #8 and Exhibits.

opens in a new windowOrder No. 8 Documentopens PDF file
opens in a new windowPhase I Reopening Standards and Guidance Established by Order No. 8opens PDF file

For the recent updates at the local level, please visit the following:
opens in a new windowSt. Louis City – COVID-19 Coronavirus Information

St. Louis County Re-Opening Guidance (as of May 12, 2020):

opens in a new windowSt. Louis County Department of Public Health COVID-19
Update May 13, 2020
– Business Guidance
Together, in coordination with the City of St. Louis and the Economic Development Partnership, business operating guidelines for the entire St. Louis Region have been released and posted online. The following protocols can be found at opens in a new windowstlcorona.com.

opens in a new windowHotels
opens in a new windowCommercial Office Building Operations
opens in a new windowRestaurant (with dine-in) Operations
opens in a new windowTransportation Services
opens in a new windowBusiness Office Operations
opens in a new windowConstruction, Manufacturing and Repair Services
opens in a new windowPersonal Services
opens in a new windowRetail Operations

Individual businesses can ask specific questions about how the guidance applies to their business by emailing business-covid@stlouisco.comcreate new email.

opens in a new windowSt. Louis County COVID-19 News & Updates as of 05/12/2020opens PDF file opens in a new window (download)opens PDF file

For the recent updates at the local level, please visit the following:
opens in a new windowSt. Louis County News & Updates


Crane Agency has provided some additional resources below to help assist businesses and individuals with this transition, which can be downloaded here:

opens in a new windowSAMPLE COVID-19 Exposure, Prevention, Preparedness and Response Plan – opens PDF file opens in a new windowGeneral Industryopens PDF file (download)
opens in a new windowSAMPLE COVID-19 Exposure, Prevention, Preparedness and Response Plan – opens PDF file opens in a new windowConstructionopens PDF file (download)


Additional Guidance:


Other Helpful Resources:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
opens in a new windowInterim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
.

opens in a new windowCDC Print Resources  
These resources were developed to support COVID-19 recommendations and are free for download from the CDC website.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

opens in a new windowGuidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19opens PDF file

Environmental Health Organization:

For a full list of EPA-approved disinfection techniques and tools, follow this link:
https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/disinfectant-use-and-coronavirus-covid-19

For additional information and resources, please visit the opens in a new windowCrane Agency Coronavirus Preparedness Resources page on our website.

Workers’ Compensation FAQ – NCCI COVID-19 Classification & Payroll Changes for Furloughed and Reassigned Workers

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has received numerous questions in the last few weeks regarding COVID-19 and the impact it may have on the workers’ compensation industry.  This FAQ speaks specifically to recent changes related to furloughed and reassigned workers. 

  1. What can a business owner expect when workers are furloughed but still being paid?

The NCCI has proposed a new classification code – 0012. This code will apply to payroll for workers who have been laid off (furloughed) from their jobs but are still being paid. This is a change from the existing NCCI rule concerning “idle time,” which requires payroll to be included in the employee’s usual classification.

This new 0012 classification would not be included in the premium calculation (effectively a $0.00 rate), but the employer would be required to track this payroll in their accounting records as a separate item.  The percentage allocation of payroll would not be allowed.  Consult your Crane Agency Broker if you are paying employees who are not working to determine if your current policy can be adjusted now, or if the new classification will be applied during the audit process at the end of the policy term.

  1. My business has limited operations due to COVID-19. As a result, employee job assignments and duties have been changed.  Does this affect how my payroll is classified on my current policy?

The answer to this question is, “it depends” on the specific circumstances. The first thing to remember is that it is the overall nature of the business’s operations that are classified, not the activities of individual employees (unless they are in one of the standard exceptions such as clerical, outside sales or drivers, etc.)  Therefore, it may be that the new duties are still within the scope of the original policy’s classifications.

If the business operations have changed substantially, then a new classification may apply. For example, if your business is making beer, but you are now making a hand sanitizer, that may require a new classification. The new classification would be effective on the date the change in operations was made. Your Crane broker can assist in determining if a new classification is needed.

Remember that it is the employer’s obligation to maintain payroll records in a manner that accurately tracks payroll for the different classifications.

  1. Many of our employees are now working remotely from their homes. Does this result in a change of classification?

As with many aspects of the unique situation caused by COVID-19, the answer again is, “it depends.” Clerical employees who are now performing their duties from home might be switched from class code 8810 “Clerical” to class code 8871 “Clerical Telecommuter.”  Other employees, such as drivers or outside salespeople, would remain in their existing classification, as would construction workers or repair service employees.

Note that if an employee’s residence is in a different state from their usual work location, the employer will want to add that state to section 3.A. of their workers’ compensation declarations page if it is not already shown in the policy declarations.

As with any rapidly changing topic, please visit the NCCI website for current guidance and the most recent updates related to COVID-19.  If you should have questions about your specific policy, please contact your Crane Agency Broker Unit to discuss the options available for your business.

Other Helpful Resources:

Edition Date:  04/20/2020

OSHA Considers Good Faith Efforts When Enforcing Compliance During Pandemic

U.S. Department of Labor  |  April 16, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor Considers Employer’s Good Faith Efforts When Enforcing Compliance During Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued opens in a new windowinterim guidance to advise compliance safety and health officers to evaluate an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards during the coronavirus pandemic.

Current infection control practices may limit the availability of employees, consultants, or contractors who normally provide training, auditing, equipment inspections, testing, and other essential safety and industrial hygiene services. Business closures and other restrictions may also preclude employee participation in training if trainers are unavailable and access to medical testing facilities may be limited or suspended.

During an inspection, compliance safety and health officers should assess an employer’s efforts to comply with standards that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training or assessments. Officers should evaluate if the employer:

  • Explored all options to comply with applicable standards (e.g., use of virtual training or remote communication strategies);
  • Implemented interim alternative protections, such as engineering or administrative controls; and
  • Rescheduled required annual activity as soon as possible.

Employers unable to comply with OSHA requirements because local authorities required the workplace to close should demonstrate a good faith attempt to meet applicable requirements as soon as possible following the re-opening of the workplace.

OSHA will take employers’ attempts to comply in good faith into strong consideration when determining whether it cites a violation. The agency may issue a citation if it finds an employer cannot demonstrate any efforts to comply. To ensure corrective actions employers have taken once normal activities resume, OSHA will develop a program to conduct monitoring inspections from a randomized sampling of cases where the agency noted, but did not cite, violations.

This guidance takes effect immediately, and remains in effect until further notice. It is time-limited interim guidance in effect due to the current public health crisis. Visit OSHA’s opens in a new windowCOVID-19 webpage frequently for updates.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit opens in a new windowwww.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

For more information, please contact your Crane Agency Broker Unit.

###

Media Contacts:

Emily Weeks, weeks.emily.c@dol.govcreate new email

Release Number: 20-625-NAT

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.  It is the second major legislative initiative passed in the United States in response to COVID-19.

opens in a new windowFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) took effect on April 1, 2020, and provides eligible workers with paid leave for reasons related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Covered employers should post notice of the FFCRA requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. A copy of the notification is linked below, along with a link to the U.S. Department of Labor website, which provides additional guidance on paid leave requirements related to COVID-19.

opens in a new windowDOL FFCRA Posteropens PDF file

opens in a new windowDOL FFCRA Fact Sheet

We have also provided an FFCRA Compliance Bulletin, which includes frequently asked questions issued by the DOL to assist employers and employees on their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA, as well as a resource on the U.S. Chamber website that outlines what businesses need to know.

opens in a new windowCrane Agency – Families First Coronavirus Response Act Q&Aopens PDF file

opens in a new windowU.S. Chamber – FFCRA:  What Businesses Need to Know

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes two new significant paid leave laws:  (1) the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, and (2) the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.  Both statutes address absences from work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Both provisions are effective April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)
This act creates a new form of FMLA leave covering up to 12 weeks of an eligible employee’s inability to work or telework “due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.”

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)
Employees covered under the EPSLA are entitled to paid leave for several different types of absences related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
– Employees subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
– Employees who have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19
– Employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis
– Employees caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2)
– An Employee caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons
– Employees experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Due to the speed at which these laws took effect, the U.S Department of Labor has created a Q&A page to address questions and provide additional guidance:   opens in a new windowU.S. Department of Labor – Families First Coronavirus Response Act Q&A

Please visit the opens in a new windowCrane Agency Coronavirus Preparedness Resource page for further information.  As with any rapidly changing situation, please check local, state, and federal websites for the most recent updates and guidance on this quickly evolving topic.

COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Guidance – Essential vs. Non-Essential Businesses FAQ

In late February, it became increasingly clear that community transmission of COVID-19 had already begun to take hold in communities throughout the United States.  Cities and counties on the West Coast were the first to take action by initially isolating more vulnerable groups, which included older citizens and those with underlying health conditions.  By mid-March, six counties in California became the first to enact “shelter-in-place” orders, and on March 19th, opens in a new windowGovernor Gavin Newsom mandated the countries first state-wide order.

To date, all but a handful of states have taken action to mitigate the spread of the virus.  On March 21st, opens in a new windowSt. Louis City and opens in a new windowSt. Louis Countyopens PDF file joined several other state and local municipalities to issue emergency orders to contain the spread of COVID-19.  opens in a new windowKansas City, Missouri, and opens in a new windowSpringfield, Missouri, have also released “Stay-At-Home” orders, which took effect on March 24th and March 26th, respectively.  On April 3rd, opens in a new windowGovernor Michael Parson issued a state-wide “ opens in a new windowStay Home Missouri” order that took effect on April 6th.

With so many different emergency orders issued at the state and local level, some businesses and individuals are left struggling to determine what is considered an essential or non-essential business.  To provide additional insight on this topic, Crane Agency has created 3 FAQ documents that provide further guidance:

opens in a new windowSt. Louis City & St. Louis County Stay-At-Home FAQopens PDF file

opens in a new windowKansas City, Missouri Stay-At-Home FAQopens PDF file

opens in a new windowSpringfield, Missouri Stay at Home FAQopens PDF file

The opens in a new windowCDC has also provided Federal Social Distancing guidelines, which currently extend through at least April 30th.  To practice social or physical distancing:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people
  • Do not gather in groups
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings

It’s still too soon to say if these measures and their staggered implementation within states and across the country will do enough to slow the spread of COVID-19 to a manageable level.

Additional Resources:

opens in a new windowCOVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker (KFF.org)

opens in a new windowState Data and Policy Actions to Address Coronavirus (KFF.org)
To date, states have taken a number of actions to mitigate the spread of the virus and reduce barriers to testing and treatment for those affected. This data tool provides state-level information on:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020, and is the most massive economic relief bill in U.S. History.  It will allocate $2.2 trillion in health care relief and emergency assistance for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

opens in a new windowCoronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

The CARES Act was designed to distribute capital quickly and broadly.  The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.  Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. opens in a new window(1)

Below you will find links to additional information, along with a few attachments, that may help covered businesses access the other resources available through the recently passed stimulus package:

Guidance from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Guidance from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Guidance from the US Department of Treasury

The CARES Act also provides support for opens in a new windowpublic transportationopens WORD file .  To find out more information, please visit the opens in a new windowFederal Transit Administration COVID-19opens WORD file landing page.

Individuals & Families

For individuals and families, $250 billion has been allocated for direct payments in the form of recovery rebates to help soften the economic challenges many are currently facing.  Recovery rebates are refundable tax credits that will be applied to 2020 tax returns but will be advanced to taxpayers now based on their 2019 or 2018 adjusted income.

How much of a rebate will I receive?

Individuals with a Social Security Number (SSN) and who are not dependents may receive $1,200 (single filers and heads of household) or $2,400 (joint filers), with an additional rebate of $500 per qualifying child, if they have adjusted gross income (AGI) under $75,000 (single), $150,000 (joint), or $112,500 (heads of household) using 2019 tax return information. (The IRS will use 2018 tax return information if the taxpayer has not yet filed for 2019.) The rebate phases out at $50 for every $1,000 of income earned above those thresholds. opens in a new window(2)

CARES Act Rebate chart

How do I get my rebate?

For most Americans, no action is required. The IRS will use data from the most current tax returns or Social Security data to provide a rebate to Americans either via direct deposit (if such information is available) or through a paper check in the mail to the last address on file.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he hopes to distribute rebates to taxpayers who e-filed with direct deposit banking information in three weeks. Taxpayers receiving rebate checks may have to wait six to eight weeks to receive a paper check in the mail.

Treasury will be developing a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online. Taxpayers will be able to receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail. opens in a new window(3)

Additional information regarding Rebate Relief, Social Security, Payroll Tax Changes, and Unemployment concerning the CARES Act can be found here:

opens in a new windowTax Foundation – FAQ on Federal Cornovirus Relief Bill (CARES Act).

Provisions of the CARES Act also address healthcare needs, expand individual access to retirement accounts, support education, and provide state and local governments with additional funds to help mitigate the on-going COVID-19 crisis.