COVID-19

Staff FAQs

As Easterseals Midwest continues to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 (coronavirus), we have prepared the following FAQs. This list will continue to be updated, so please check back in for additional information.

Should you have questions that are not currently listed, please send them to darryl.kimble@esmw.org. We will continue to gather the answers to your questions and add them here.

While information is changing daily, we will do our very best to keep you updated.

Our priority remains your health and safety, as well as those you support. We hope the following helps provide clarity around questions you might have.

FAQs

Why did Easterseals Midwest end the pay differential? The COVID-19 pay differential of $3 per hour was put into place to support, recognize, and incentivize the essential work of our Community Living staff. The differential was in place from Monday, March 30, 2020, at Midnight until Sunday, June 7, 2020, at 11:59 pm (six pay cycles) for every direct service shift worked in our Community Living programs.

We did this in response to a number of our staff losing second jobs, their family members losing jobs, many having an increased need for income for childcare and family expenses, and, as an incentive.


To date, the total cost of providing the $3 per hour pay differential is nearly a million dollars. The differential was never intended to be permanent and is not financially sustainable; that is why we have transitioned back to our standard pay structure.


We are pleased that we could, if even just for a time, support and incent our staff in the Community Living programs with this pay differential. We are equally happy that through May 11, 2020, we were able to keep our staff members displaced by program closures or those with lost hours whole as a result of supplemental wages.

How do I properly apply and remove my PPE? Watch this video for a short explanation. 

Where can I get information on applying for unemployment? Visit the Department of Labor website. To apply for unemployment benefits, you will need to create an account with the Missouri Department of Labor and complete an online application. For step-by-step instructions, watch this video.

Will I be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if I have no hours or a reduction in hours caused by the coronavirus? In most situations, yes. Unemployment benefits are available to any individual who is unemployed through no fault of their own. To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must meet the eligibility criteria set by the state.

If I am off work due to the coronavirus and am receiving pay such as paid sick leave, vacation pay, or family medical leave, am I eligible to receive unemployment benefits? No. Generally speaking, an individual still receiving pay while off work is not “unemployed” and is ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Will I be eligible for unemployment benefits if I am in a mandatory quarantine because of suspicion of having the coronavirus? In most situations, yes. Unemployment benefits are available to any individual who is unemployed through no fault of their own. To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must meet the eligibility criteria set by the state.

I am asymptomatic but want to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus, will I be eligible for unemployment benefits? You may be eligible for benefits. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, you - not the employer—are choosing not to work. However, the facts of each circumstance are essential for the unemployment office to render their decision. For example, if Easterseals allowed you to telework and do not accept that assignment, you would not qualify for benefits because you are not unemployed.

If an individual leaves work to care for children due to school/daycare closures as a result of COVID-19, are they eligible to receive unemployment benefits? In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual is not available for work due to caring for children and would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are essential in determining eligibility for unemployment benefits.

If I become ill because of the coronavirus, will I be eligible for unemployment benefits? Maybe. The facts of each circumstance are essential in determining eligibility for unemployment benefits, and each situation must be handled on a case by case basis. The unemployment office determines these decisions.

If I have exhausted unemployment benefits for the benefit year, am I eligible for additional unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus? Not at this time.

What are the eligibility requirements to receive unemployment? You must file a claim online and report all wages earned each week, even if you won’t be paid until later. This includes tips, commissions, bonuses, show-up time, military reserve pay, board, and lodging. You must report other forms of pay, such as vacation, holiday, sick, pension, etc. You must be able and available for work each week, meaning no illness, injury, or personal circumstances would keep you from working. Refusing an offer of work may result in a denial of unemployment benefits.

Does Easterseals Midwest qualify for the CARES Act? Yes and no. Although we do qualify for some portions of the act, we do not qualify for the portion of the CARES Act that provides emergency funding to empower companies with employees whole or on paid leave. A main feature of the CARES Act is for small businesses to access emergency grants and a forgiveable loan program, as long as they have fewer than 500 employees. Easterseals Midwest currently has nearly 1,700 employees and therefore cannot qualify for many of the programs offered through the CARES Act.

Did I receive supplemental wages last pay period? Easterseals Midwest provided supplemental wages to all staff whose hours were reduced due to COVID-19-related issues for the March 16 – 29 pay period, which paid on Friday, April 10 and for the March 30 –April12 pay period that pays on April 24.  This includes staff whose hours were reduced due to COVID-19 suspension of programs and staff who were asked to quarantine by Easterseals. Staff whose hours were reduced were not required to use PTO or EIB but were instead made whole by the agency.

How are supplemental wage amounts determined? Human Resources has established supplemental wage amounts by taking an average of the last two pay periods to establish an average weekly base wage for all employees. Management was asked to review those averages and report to HR if any issues needed to be adjusted. Any supplemental wages going forward will be based on that weekly base pay average.

Will I receive supplemental wages on my next pay period? We have not determined future pay periods yet but will let you as soon as decisions are made.

What qualifies staff for supplemental wages? Staff must be available to work to receive supplemental wages. Staff who are on leave, have work available to them and are not completing it, or staff who choose not to work during this time do not qualify for supplemental wages. Staff not considered “available to work” can be, but are not limited to, the following examples:

For staff who have work available but are choosing not to complete it, PTO and EIB hours must be used to supplement their time. If the staff does not have PTO or EIB available, their supervisor must apply Unpaid Time Off hours up to the employee’s weekly hourly average on their timecard.

Who will receive COVID-19 differential pay? Employees who work in a Community Living home are eligible to receive a $3 per hour COVID-19 pay differential.

The decision to provide a differential to employees who work in our Community Living program is a result of the unique requirement of 24-hour per day support. This program has no suspension mechanism; thus, it cannot be temporarily suspended or closed like several other programs.

However, in some programs outside of Community Living, there may be cases where a Direct Service Professional provides Activities of Daily Living (ADL) services. These supports include things such as bathing, toileting, transfer and ambulation, skincare, grooming, dressing, an extension of therapies and exercise, care of adaptive equipment, meal preparation, feeding, and incidental household cleaning and laundry. Those duties will also qualify for the $3 per hour COVID-19 pay differential. These cases will be reviewed by the director to determine who or what service may be eligible.

Although many direct service professionals continue to work with individuals, much of that work has moved or will move to online or remote services and support during this emergency. With the increased need for social distancing throughout the state of Missouri, we have a responsibility to limit the number of employees providing face-to-face support.

What is Easterseals doing to protect staff? We are following recommendations from the CDC and adjusting our programming and how we work accordingly. We are limiting visitors to our sites, including offices, homes, and community-based partners to primary duties only. We have asked all employees whose work allows them to work remotely. We have temporarily discontinued services in several programs to limit exposure for those we support and have suspended non-essential travel, events, and meetings.

I may have been exposed to or am having symptoms of COVID-19. What do I do? If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, instructed to quarantine, test positive, or have been in contact with someone who has, please report this immediately to your supervisor and darryl.kimble@esmw.org - 314-394-7061. You should not report to work until you have discussed your situation with Darryl or someone in Human Resources. Easterseals will require any staff out for testing, quarantined, or with a positive result for coronavirus to submit a doctor's note before returning to work.

Who should I let know if I need time off for quarantine, illness, or to care for someone who is ill? Notify your team according to normal call-in procedure AND reach out to benjamin.plawsky@esmw.org - 314-394-7114.

I do not feel well – should I come to work? Influenza and other respiratory infections, including COVID-19, have similar if not identical signs and symptoms. Staff who are sick should NOT report to work. "Sick" in this context means having a fever at or above 100.4°. If you have a fever at or above this level, you should not return to work until you are fever-free for 24 hours. Easterseals may require a doctor's note upon your return.

I took the COVID-19 test and am waiting for the results – what should I do? Staff who have been tested for COVID-19 should not report to work while results are pending. Easterseals will require a doctor's note releasing the staff member to return to work after testing.

I took the COVID-19 test and the results are negative – can I return to work? Staff who test negative for COVID-19 cannot return to work until their fever has reduced below 100.4° for 24 hours and must provide a release from their doctor returning them to work.

I tested positive for COVID-19 – now what? Staff who test positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work until a doctor has released them, and they must provide a written doctor's note of their ability to return to work. Darryl Kimble and Human Resources must be notified of positive results, and a doctor's release to return to work will be required.

I feel fine, but someone in my household is sick – what should I do? Staff may feel well but may have a household member who is ill. If a member of your household is sick as outlined in the questions above, you should NOT report to work. You should follow the instructions applicable to the household member's situation.

Can I use PTO or EIB while I am out? We will follow Easterseals policies regarding the use of PTO and EIB. We will, however, make some exceptions at this time – these include allowing all staff regardless of the length of service to be able to access any accruals that they have accumulated and allowing staff to access their EIB banks when they are waiting for COVID-19 testing results to come back or during a doctor imposed quarantine for yourself or your household.

My child's school is closed. I am experiencing difficulty finding childcare and may not be able to make it to work - can I use PTO? We will be working with staff during this difficult time. We will first look at alternate working arrangements, such as remote work or other shift assignments, but if that is not an option, staff would be able to use accrued PTO.  

We looked around all weekend for disinfecting supplies and were unable to locate any. Is Easterseals going to help locations get supplies so that we can clean? We are working with our suppliers to find ways to get these items delivered to our offices. Once we can get items delivered, we will have cleaning care packages that can be deployed to locations in need. We are being told there may be delays. In the meantime, we encourage teams to continue looking for items at local stores that are regularly restocking shelves. You should also be in contact with your management team in case we need to borrow small amounts from neighboring sites.

Will Easterseals begin checking temperatures on visitors, staff, and individuals? We are checking temperatures of individuals we serve regularly and consistently throughout each day to monitor their health. We are not taking temperatures of staff and visitors, as the CDC does not recommend this. A person without an elevated temperature could still be ill. We may ask employees to self-monitor and report in the future.    

If or when a program gets closed, can I use my PTO? If a program temporarily discontinues services, we will first look at redeploying staff to another service area that needs assistance. If there are alternate work locations available, staff must accept these assignments. If there are no such arrangements available, then staff may use accrued PTO.

What if I am a new employee and am not allowed to access my PTO yet? We are allowing all staff, regardless of the length of service, to be able to access any accruals that they have accumulated.

Will employees be allowed to donate PTO or EIB to employees that have none available and need to go out due to COVID-19 related illness? We will not be allowing donations of PTO/EIB. With the uncertainty of this situation, all staff may need to have access to their banks.  

Can an employee go out on FMLA if they want to self-quarantine without medical advice or recommendation? No. We are following our FMLA policy, which requires that all leave has documentation from a healthcare provider stating that it is medically necessary for them to have a specific amount of time away from work.

I am having difficulty getting my full-time hours, will these impact my health insurance? During this unprecedented time, Easterseals will allow staff that falls under full-time hours to continue on our insurance. Deductions for premiums will continue to come out of your check as usual.

What is the plan if an individual gets COVID-19? Because supporting our individuals with illness is often challenging, we are focusing strongly on precautions and preventative measures, such as supporting individuals with staying home, reducing the number of employees providing support within the home, and disinfecting the home three times per day. Should an individual be diagnosed with COVID-19:

What's the best way to prevent Covid-19? Hand washing - and lots of it. There's no vaccine yet, so the best way to kill germs is by scrubbing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Do this frequently before, during, and after you visit a public place or have contact with people. When soap isn't available, use a hand sanitizer that's at least 60% alcohol. Rub the sanitizer around your hands until it's dry. If you live or work near someone who may be sick, avoid close contact with them. If there is an outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible and limit your contact with people.

Can Easterseals send home an employee involuntarily who has or is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19? Yes. In response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has cited its 2009 pandemic H1N1 flu guidance, which states that advising workers with symptoms to go home either a. is not a disability-related action if the illness is akin to seasonal influenza or b. is permitted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if the illness is serious enough to pose a direct threat to the employee or coworkers. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Interim Guidance for Business and Employers advises that employees with symptoms of acute respiratory illness and a fever (greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius, using an oral thermometer) should stay home.

I was on PTO last week and went to Florida. I am scheduled to return to work next week, are there any steps I need to take to return to work? In this case, there is no need to self-isolate or quarantine unless there was close interaction with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 per CDC guidelines. You can return to work and continue to follow universal precautions and monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms.

I am off work due to the coronavirus and am receiving pay, such as paid sick leave, vacation pay, or family medical leave pay. Am I eligible to receive unemployment benefits? No. Generally speaking, an individual still receiving pay while off of work is not "unemployed" and is ineligible for unemployment benefits.

If the coronavirus causes an employer to shut down operations temporarily, will workers qualify for unemployment benefits? In most situations, yes. Missouri unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations temporarily and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria.

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