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Texas Mutual Announces That It Will Exempt From Payroll Workers Furloughed WITH PAY

Please be advised that today Texas Mutual announced the following in an Agents FAQ: If a policyholder suspends operations due to COVID-19, but continues paying employees, how will Texas Mutual treat this payroll? Although not required by manual rules, given the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, we are willing to exempt this payroll from the premium calculation. To do so, we require advanced notice in writing from the agent of record of the policyholder’s intention to temporarily pay employees not performing any duties on behalf of the policyholder. The policyholder must also maintain adequate records to distinguish this payroll for premium audit purposes. (emphasis added) This will be welcom

Dallas County Issues Rules of Essential Construction

You can bet these revisions will be applied throughout Texas soon enough. If you are performing essential construction services even outside of Dallas County, please review them carefully and consider implementing them at your jobsites. Might as well start practicing! While construction is clearly an essential industry, It is not hard to envision city and county governments tightening the definitions of essential industry and expanding work stoppages if workers refuse to follow COVID-19 protocols. We have copied the order below. Work safe: This document provides guidance for persons and business associated with the building and construction industries and trades on the meaning and applica

Congress Builds Giant Ventilator for the US Economy

Congress passed and President Trump has signed a $2 Trillion "Stimulus" Package in response to the government-imposed shut down orders that have brought the US economy to a standstill overnight. Think of it as a gigantic ventilator for the economy to get through this pandemic. Here are the most relevant provisions: Loans and Tax Credit Available to Small Businesses The stimulus package creates a $367 billion federally guaranteed loan program for small businesses that employ 500 or fewer people who must pledge not to lay off their workers. The loans will be available during an emergency period ending June 30, and would be forgiven if the business uses the loan funds for approved purposes a

United We Stand!

Owning the building where you work offers many advantages! Today, we are taking one of them. We first displayed this flag shortly after September 11, 2001. COVID-19 is a different kind of "attack," but this is most assuredly a two-front war: a public health crisis AND an economic crisis. We ARE GOING to disagree on the specifics of how to fight both fronts. Fair enough, we are Americans and we are a messy, prickly, brilliant people. Once again, our first responders are setting an example. Like those doctors and nurses working in this Queens hospital where 13 people died yesterday. In this fight, we are going to have to expand the definition of "first responders" to include grocery sto

DOL Releases FFCRA Employee Rights Poster - UPDATED WITH NEW AND IMPROVED GUIDANCE!

The Department of Labor has issued the Employee Rights poster addressing the two Emergency leave laws passed *last week.* We discussed these two laws and their requirements here. Please note that since that blog post was issued the effective date of these leave laws has been moved up to April 1, 2020 rather than April 2nd as previously reported. <the portion of this blog highlighted in red is subject to the UPDATE> Perhaps more importantly are the legal opinions that orders such as the Stay Home Work Safe effective in Harris County and other counties throughout Texas WILL NOT TRIGGER the Paid Sick Leave Act. Here is what we reported earlier in the week: Moreover, attorneys reviewing this l

Do We Now Need Letters of Transit?

In the classic movie Casablanca, the "letters of transit" are the critical plot device ("macguffin" for movie nerds) that drives the narrative. Everyone is after them. Rick (Humphery Bogart) has them. The key question is whether he will use them for his own selfish (albeit romantic) purposes or for a more noble selfless use. Who knew "letters of transit" would become important in Harris County? We are not sure that they are. So far, we can find no authority that requires them or something like them to be carried by employees of businesses considered "essential" under the terms of the Stay Home Stay Safe Order issued by Harris County and the City of Houston (as well as other municipal are

Harris County Orders "Stay Home, Stay Safe" - TWO BIG QUESTIONS: "Am I an Essential B

It's Tuesday, right? Given how this week is going I will not be surprised if this is what I look like on Friday: Harris County has FINALLY issued its written order and it is worded slightly differently than the Dallas County order or even the Galveston order issued yesterday. It goes into effect on at 11:59 PM this evening and stays in effect until 11:59 PM, April 3, 2020. Am I an Essential Business? Click here for a link to a .pdf of the order. It is complicated and its definition of essential business is rather broad. Accordingly, I would not assume that your business is NOT essential until you read the order and make your own determination. If you would like some guidance, I would be

New Paid Leave Laws Effective April 1, 2020 . . . Boy, That Escalated Quickly

We seem to be living in the "Boy, That Escalated Quickly"-meme from Anchorman. Click here if you need a refresher! On March 18, 2020 President Trump signed this emergency legislation in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. There are two separate laws: the EMERGENCY FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE EXPANSION ACT (E-FMLA) and the EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT (PSLA). Here are some key Qs and As: What is the PSLA? The law requires employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick time to employees who meet certain requirements related to the COVID-19 outbreak. These include: A quarantine or isolation order for the employee or someone in his or her care or medical advice to quarantine; An employee with sympto

COVID 19 MESSIN' WITH TEXAS! THAT AIN'T RIGHT!

COVID 19 just cancelled the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo along with the SXSW music festival in Austin. Whether you believe these cancellations to be difficult-but-sober-minded decisions or the product of pandemic hysteria, Coronavirus is now messin’ with Texas! Accordingly, here are some friendly-neighborhood-insurance-agent FAQs: If my business has closed or been reduced due to coronavirus, do I have any insurance coverage for this? We will NOT sugarcoat it. Even if you have some sort of business interruption insurance, these policies require there to be a covered occurrence or event to trigger coverage. Typically, this has to be some sort of direct damage to your property (e.g., a f

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