Medical Practice Staffing and Employment During COVID-19

CAP has compiled a series of employer guidelines and resources to help physicians navigate uncertain employment issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

Physicians, in their role as employers, may be dealing with many challenging issues including, among others:

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  • The need to downsize their practice due to decreased patient visits
  • Alternative and adjusted work schedules
  • Employees who become sick or are caring for sick family members
  • Employees who are unable to come to the office due to childcare needs

Physicians need to stay informed of current employment laws to mitigate the risk of an employment lawsuit.

Reduction of Employee Hours

If you find the need to reduce hours, your employees may be eligible for state unemployment insurance, and employers should suggest they apply for it.

Reduction in Workforce

When conducting an employee layoff, employers need to follow the same guidelines that you would for a termination; the employee must be given a final check on their last day of employment, any accrued but unused vacation or paid time-off must be included in the final paycheck.

When reducing hours or laying off staff, the employer is responsible for completing the Notice to Employee as to a Change in Relationship Form. It is also recommended that you document any action you take with an employee. Give them a copy of the documentation and put a copy in their file.   

Here are sample letters and forms you can use to give to your employees and include in your documentation:

Sample Letter for a Reduction in Hours

Sample Letter for Employee Layoff

Notice to Employee as to a Change in Relationship Form

Employers may wish to download the following brochure and offer it to impacted employees to help guide them through their unemployment insurance benefits: https://www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de2320.pdf

Returning to Work

If you are re-opening your practice and hiring back laid off staff, make use of a Return to Work letter. The letter should outline the original date of office closure, the date the employee is expected to return to work, and the measures the practice has put in place to ensure patient and staff safety. Here is a sample you can use:

Sample Return to Work Letter

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): Employees Impacted by Illness and or Childcare Requirements

On March 24, 2020 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.

FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees and more than 50 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.

An employer, including a religious or nonprofit organization, with fewer than 50 employees (small business) is exempt from providing (a) paid sick leave due to school or place of care closures or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons and (b) expanded family and medical leave due to school or place of care closures or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons when doing so would jeopardize the viability of the small business as a going concern. A small business may claim this exemption if an authorized officer of the business has determined that:

  1. The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;  
  2. The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or  
  3. There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.

Under the FFCRA, employers need to post the following notices and/or distribute to remote employees.

Employee Rights Poster (Federal)

Employee Rights Poster (Non-Federal)

The Department of Labor has provided a fact sheet for employers to learn more about paid leave requirements under the FFCRA here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave

A helpful Q&A can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

For more information about the FFCRA, employers can visit: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20200324

CAP is committed to ensuring our physician members have the most up to date information as possible and will include additional resources on this page and our COVID-19 resource page as they become available.

Should you have any employment-related questions and you’re a CAP Member, please contact Nancy Brusegaard Johnson at 213-473-8664 or at nbrusegaard@capphysicians.com.