TACCA Update March 31
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted by: Devorah Jakubowsky
Department of Homeland Security Updates ‘Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce’ List – Includes HVAC as Essential
Previously HVAC was only specifically listed under the Information Technology section of the list of essential businesses. The Department of Homeland Security has published a revision that lists HVAC and/or supporting businesses in four additional sections (see below). The complete revised listing may be found HERE.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott so far has left decisions on shelter in place orders up to individual cities and counties. Shannon Noble, TACCA’s Government Affairs Counsel, contacted the Governor's office to request that if a statewide shelter in place order is issued, HVAC/R be specifically named as an essential business. It is the Department of Homeland Security language which all Texas local shelter in place orders have quoted and are following.
Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) spearheaded efforts to ensure HVAC is considered essential business nationwide, and we thank ACCA and our members who contacted their policymakers in support of this.
Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce sections that include HVAC
Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services
- Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, senior living facilities, any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response.
Other Community- or Government-Based Operations and Essential Functions
- Workers to ensure continuity of building functions, including but not limited to security and environmental controls (e.g., HVAC), the manufacturing and distribution of the products required for these functions, and the permits and inspections for construction supporting essential infrastructure.
- Workers who support the supply chain of building materials from production through application/installation, including cabinetry, fixtures, doors, cement, hardware, plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, refrigeration, appliances, paint/coatings, and employees who provide services that enable repair materials and equipment for essential functions.
- Workers distributing, servicing, repairing, installing residential and commercial HVAC systems, boilers, furnaces and other heating, cooling, refrigeration, and ventilation equipment.
Transportation and Logistics
- Warehouse operators, including vendors and support personnel critical for business continuity (including HVAC & electrical engineers; security personnel; and janitorial staff) and customer service for essential functions.
- Employees of firms providing services, supplies, and equipment that enable warehouse and operations, including cooling, storing, packaging, and distributing products for wholesale or retail sale or use. Includes cold- and frozen-chain logistics for food and critical biologic products.
Mandatory Posters for FFCRA
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Employers are required to provide notice to employees of their rights under FFCRA.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has prepared two posters, one for federal workers and one for all other employees, that must be posted for employees. To assist employers, WHD has also prepared questions and answers about posting requirements. For example, the first question is:
Q. Where do I post this notice? Since most of my workforce is teleworking, where do I electronically “post” this notice?
WHD A. Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.
The Department of Labor has also updated its ‘Questions and Answers’ on paid sick and family leave during the COVID-19 pandemic, including guidance on:
- teleworking, furloughs, layoffs, reduced schedules, and office closures (employees are not eligible for paid sick or family leave under such circumstances but could be eligible for unemployment)
- documentation that an employer should collect to support an employee’s paid leave request and be able to claim tax credits
These are complex issues and each situation is unique. TACCA advises you to consult with an attorney if you have further questions.
Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program was created by the CARES Act which passed last week and is run by the Small Business Administration (SBA) working through approved SBA lenders. Small business owners will be able to borrow money to cover defined payroll costs, rent, mortgage interest, utilities and interest on some loans. The loan can be forgivable to a significant extent, but the rules are complicated. SBA is drafting implementing regulations that are required to be drafted within 15 days of the CARES Act passing. The US Chamber of Commerce has put out this nice flyer on the program.
TDLR Strategic Planning Sessions Go Live
To help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, TDLR has canceled all external in-person Strategic Planning Sessions and shifted them to virtual sessions. Strategic Planning is your opportunity to share your ideas and opinions with TDLR about how they’re doing and how they can improve. TDLR is conducting two virtual Strategic Planning sessions live from Austin on Monday, April 6, 2020:
Morning Session: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Join on TDLR's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thm2wiUM8E0
Afternoon Session: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Join on TDLR's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-nommCzgUU