We’ve created a list of some of the common question’s we’ve received related to the current situation and how it affects work and benefits. We hope this helps with some of the items you may have concerns about.
Employee Communication 4/7/20 – Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is the general status of company operations?
- With the exception of the HP facility in Corvallis (which shut down all construction activities) – all Charter projects, fab shop, and warehouse operations continue to proceed.
- We have established a daily call-in meeting dedicated to addressing issues and define the path forward related to the coronavirus. The attendees include management, supervision and safety representatives.
- We have employees who have made the decision to stay at home and who cannot work from home. We have respected their decision and have given them furloughs. Our furloughed employees are eligible to apply for and collect unemployment benefits.
Q: Can my furlough (temporary lay-off) be extended?
A: Yes – please communicate with your foreman or General Foreman.
Q: Can my furlough be shortened if I want?
A: Yes – providing you feel safe to return to work and there is work for you to perform. This needs to be verified by contacting your foreman or general foreman prior to returning to work. Contact phone numbers are posted on this website.
Q: Has anyone from Charter tested positive for COVID-19?
A: Fortunately, we have had no employees test positive.
Q: Have there been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Charter jobsites?
A: We are tracking any notices received from Owners and General Contractors. To date the only confirmed cases have been employees of other companies working at Intel. We will continue to communicate all such notifications to our employees working at the facilities.
Q: Have there been any UA 290 members with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
A: As of Tuesday 4/6/2020 UA Local 290 Assistant business manager Joe Neely had not heard of any UA 290 members with confirmed cases of COVID-19
Q: If I’m working from home, who should I contact for company issued computer problems?
A: Please email the Charter IT team
Q: What qualifies me for Paid Sick Time under the Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act (FFCRA)?
A: On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Eligible Employees: All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.
Generally, the Act provides that employees are eligible for:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
Qualification above for paid sick time – “employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19″ – does not cover employees affected by a “stay at home” or “shelter in place” order. We had hoped that we could provide coverage to employees under these conditions, but have been informed that this clause only applies if there is specific direction to quarantine (e.g. after traveling in from another country).
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Note: If someone has been furloughed and then has an event that would qualify them for paid sick leave, they cannot come off the furlough to receive the paid sick time benefits. They will need to remain on furlough and continue with unemployment benefits.
Q: Are all companies required to provide paid sick time under the Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act?
A: Covered Employers: The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Note: Charter Mechanical qualifies under this program.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or childcare unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
Q: Who can I contact if there is a problem with my paid sick leave?
A: Please contact Pete Lowry
Q: Is it true that there is an additional $600 available for unemployment and when does it start?
A: The U.S. Department of Labor issued the publication of Unemployment Insurance Guidance Letter 15-20 (UIPL) providing guidance to states for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Under FPUC, states will administer an additional $600 weekly payment to certain eligible individuals who are receiving other benefits.
This program allows states to provide an additional $600 per week benefit to individuals who are collecting regular Unemployment Compensation.
To provide assistance and assurance to those eligible, the benefit payments under FPUC may begin as soon as the week after the execution of a signed agreement between the department and states. The timeline for these payments will vary by state. As states begin providing this payment, eligible individuals will receive retroactive payments back to their date of eligibility or the signing of the state agreement, whichever came later.
Beyond expanding unemployment, the act also provides billions of dollars in emergency funding for hospitals and businesses affected by the coronavirus and includes direct relief payments to most Americans.
Q: I’m on furlough. How do I file for unemployment insurance?
A: Unemployment insurance needs to be filed through the State of Oregon. Per the State website:
“WorkSource Oregon centers are not accepting in-person appointments. Unemployment Insurance claims can only be filed using our online system or by calling 1-877-FILE-4-UI. We encourage everyone who can to file online and help keep wait times down on the phone.”
See the website: Oregon Online Unemployment Portal
Q: If I have questions about my furlough, who should I contact?
A: UA Local 290 members: contact Ryon Tullis
Non-UA staff: contact Pete Lowry
Q: What states are allowing construction to proceed?
A: Oregon is one of many states still allowing construction work to continue during the Coronavirus situation. ENR, a national construction trade publication, has created a comprehensive chart showing what each State has in place for general restrictions and restrictions applied to construction specifically. See it here