Back to School – What Does it Mean for Employee Leave?

Across the country, students are getting back in the groove of classes, whether in-person or virtually. It’s been five months since there’s been a real routine with school, making this yet another transition period for parents and business owners.

The Department of Labor released a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions regarding employee leave under the FFCRA that may be helpful to you as your workplace and workflows are affected by this. Here are some examples or you can view the full list here.

If I am home with my child because his or her school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, do I get paid sick leave, expanded family and medical leave, or both—how do they interact?
You may be eligible for both types of leave, but only for a total of twelve weeks of paid leave. You may take both paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides for an initial two weeks of paid leave. This period thus covers the first ten workdays of expanded family and medical leave, which are otherwise unpaid under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act unless you elect to use existing vacation, personal, or medical or sick leave under your employer’s policy. After the first ten workdays have elapsed, you will receive 2/3 of your regular rate of pay for the hours you would have been scheduled to work in the subsequent ten weeks under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act. *Please note that you can only receive the additional ten weeks of expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act for leave to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.

My child’s school or place of care has moved to online instruction or to another model in which children are expected or required to complete assignments at home. Is it “closed”?
Yes. If the physical location where your child received instruction or care is now closed, the school or place of care is “closed” for purposes of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave. This is true even if some or all instruction is being provided online or whether, through another format such as “distance learning,” your child is still expected or required to complete assignments.

Achieving Financial Peace of Mind – Even in a Year Like 2020

You may be thinking to yourself that 2020 hasn’t been very kind or generous to us. It’s been an interesting year full of unknowns, fears, hardship and change for so many. But let’s highlight and be thankful for the silver lining of this year so far. 2020 has given us time to reflect, prioritize and think about what matters most. But back to the reality is that it’s also given us some fear and anxiety about potential, unexpected illness. In that regard, the positive takeaway we can focus on is that we should be as prepared as possible in the event something bad happens to us. While this can mean lots of different things, a key point is that we need to feel certain that our family would be okay and financially stable if we were to leave this place sooner than planned. In comes the importance of life insurance.

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month and what better time to remind ourselves, given this year’s pandemic circumstances, how terrible it would be on our loved ones if we didn’t have them taken care of when we pass.

Life insurance is often times less expensive than people realize, especially if you apply sooner than later at a young age. It can help pay off debts that you leave behind that would be a significant financial burden to your family such as a mortgage, credit cards, car loans and even funeral expenses. Help with those bills sounds pretty priceless, right?

Just in July, Lincoln Financial surveyed 1,004 U.S. adults ages 18 or older. 36% said the pandemic makes owning life insurance more important. 9% said they had changed the type of coverage they own in response to COVID-19. 12% said they had increased their life insurance coverage in response to COVID-19.

Even in a year unlike 2020 that maybe hasn’t presented risk or susceptibility to illness, it’s still something everyone should at least consider. Now that things have slowed down a little, it’s the perfect time to look into it. Here’s a great tool to get an idea of what your premium would be for a life insurance policy tailored to your needs: Quick life quote

What do I do if an employee is exposed to or tests positive for COVID-19?

As many businesses return to work after the stay-at-home order from the COVID-19 pandemic – and even as essential businesses continue to work amidst the quarantine – business owners may question how they should handle symptoms or positive cases in the workplace. The following protocol has been recommended by Employment and Business Law attorney Terin Cremer of Barbas Cremer, PLLC:

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace BUT maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Those who have symptoms should self-isolate and follow CDC recommended steps:

• Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met and cleared by healthcare provider

•Pre-screen employees (e.g., measuring the employee’s temperature and assessing symptoms of COVID-19 prior to starting work) and perform regular medical monitoring (e.g., the employee should self-monitor for symptoms or follow up with the employer’s occupational health program) of exposed workers.

• Consult with an occupational health provider and state and/or local health officials to ensure that medical monitoring is conducted appropriately.

Maintaining open, honest communication will assist with keeping everyone as healthy as possible and the workplace as safe as can be, which also limits a business owner’s liability exposure. Stay tuned for updates and additional tips on how to handle these types of situations and be safe!

“What flood zone is my home in?”

This is such a common question we hear from home owners as well as realtors and mortgage lenders when it comes to property in Florida. Although it’s been proven that the majority of flood claims come from “low risk” flood zones (determined by FEMA), it’s still extremely important to know what level of risk you have for your home to potentially sustain flood damage.

There is a new tool called Flood Factor from First Street Foundation that can help determine the flood risk of a property just by entering the physical address. This tool can tell you approximately what percentage the chances are of your property being damaged by flood and what amount of flooding might occur. There are also projections up to 30 years into the future of how that could change over time. And if you’re interested, you can see some further statistics on your zip code, county and state within this tool as well.

This is beneficial in many ways but mostly to bring awareness to home owners of what their own situation is with regards to flooding and also what threats the surrounding areas may face. This also brings to light some gaps in the current FEMA mapping system, especially in smaller communities and rural areas. FEMA has reportedly only mapped one third of the nation’s riverine and coastal floodplains. That’s not nearly enough! But without an appropriate level of funding from Congress, that won’t be completed. This tool also helps with planning, identification of hazard mitigation opportunities, and conducting emergency response action plans.

One thing to note is that this tool is limited on how many details it knows about the property so it will not take into account things like community action, manual drainage systems put in place, etc.
It has been discovered that even just one inch of flooding can cause up to $27,000 of damage to your home so this isn’t something to take lightly. Most standard home owners and renters insurance policies do NOT cover flooding so it’s worth checking this out and seeing if you need a separate flood insurance policy. For more information on flood insurance or to obtain a quote, please contact us at (352) 371-7977 or info@mcgriffwilliams.com.

What exactly is Other Structures coverage?

Many people question the Other Structures coverage on their homeowner’s policy and don’t fully understand exactly what it is. It’s also referred to as Coverage B since it’s built into the core coverages on a standard HO-3 policy.

Other Structures applies to anything on the property that is not attached to the home itself. Examples of this would be:

• Fences
• Sheds
• Detached garages
• Gazebos
• Chicken coops
• Pump houses
• Pole barns
• Swimming pools (if not attached to the home)

However, there are often times exclusions for hurricane loss to the following if not attached to the dwelling (unless they are constructed with the same material as the main home):

• Awnings
• Aluminum framed screen enclosures/carports
• Solar panels
• Solar water heaters

A popular other structure in Florida, especially after everyone has stayed home more during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a swimming pool. If the pool is attached to the home (even by a connecting patio or screen enclosure), it would be covered under the Dwelling. Otherwise, it’s under Other Structures.

Typically, Other Structures coverage is 2% of the dwelling amount but it can be increased by endorsement with most companies to be sure you have enough. If you don’t have any detached structures on your property, you may question why you have this coverage at all. It is included as part of the policy without additional premium and cannot be fully excluded.

Be sure to evaluate these things on your property as sometimes they can be overlooked but also the things that commonly sustain damage in storms. If you have questions regarding what should be covered, at what value or under which coverage on your homeowner’s policy, we’d be happy to discuss it with you.