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Leave and Accommodation Policies and Employee Benefits in the COVID-19 Era

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Produced on September 15, 2020

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Course Information

Time 1h 7m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Labor & Employment

Course Description

Presented by Susan Gross Sholinsky and Rina Fujii of Epstein Becker Green, this program will benefit Human Resources Practitioners, Benefits Administrators, Employment Lawyers, General Counsel, and others charged with the administration of employee benefits, leaves of absence, and accommodation in the workplace.

In the first part of the program, the presenters will address the growing body of state and local leave of absence laws, plus specific COVID-19 leave laws, regulations, and guidance at the federal and state/local level. Some laws provide only job-protected leaves, some only paid leave, and some provide both pay and job-protection. And some run concurrently with one another.  

Additionally, the program will discuss emerging, and in some cases novel, pandemic-related accommodation issues, such as the whole new set of concerns arising from caregiver obligations, as many employees must remain at home caring for children engaged in remote learning, as well as special challenges that are sometimes associated with mental health concerns, and those presented by “higher-risk” older workers, who, traditionally, are not entitled to accommodations based solely on their age.

Against this legal backdrop, the presenters will provide practical guidance on crafting policies and approaches that are consistent with both applicable law and the company’s business needs and objectives.  

In the Benefits section of the program, the presenters will review how the CARES Act and subsequent federal guidance impact retirement and health benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also will discuss legally-compliant cost-cutting measures that employers may consider with regard to their benefit offerings as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, the program will identify and address the employee benefit pitfalls that may arise as a result of a long-term furlough or lay-off of employees.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Review new sick time, family leave, and other time off laws implemented in light of COVID-19
  2. Assess how other new laws addressing paid time off may be implicated in COVID-19-related leave obligations
  3. Analyze law and guidance regarding the need to accommodate employees seeking to work from home (and other accommodations) related to COVID-19
  4. Consider how COVID-19’s impact on employee mental health impacts employer accommodation obligations
  5. Discuss the interaction among FMLA, ADA, workers’ compensation, short-term disability, FFCRA, and other paid leave laws
  6. Identify how new, COVID-19 laws interact with existing laws
  7. Evaluate the CARES Act and subsequent federal guidance impact on retirement and health benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic
  8. Discover cost-cutting measures that employers may consider with regard to their benefit offerings as a result of COVID-19
  9. Avoid the employee benefit pitfalls that may arise as a result of a long-term furlough or lay-off of employees

Credit Information

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Susan Gross Sholinsky

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

SUSAN GROSS SHOLINSKY is a Member of Epstein Becker Green in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice. She counsels clients on a variety of matters, in a practical and straightforward manner, with an eye toward reducing the possibility of employment-related claims.

Ms. Sholinsky:

  • Advises employers in all facets of the employment relationship, from pre-employment considerations and hiring to terminations and post-employment restrictions
  • Develops and audits employers' policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable federal, state, and local law and best practices
  • Counsels employers with respect to the avoidance of employment-related disputes, employee discipline, leaves of absence, accommodation requests, and termination of employment (including voluntary and involuntary reductions in force) Prepares employment, consulting, separation, and non-compete agreementsConducts workplace training seminars for employees, managers, and human resources personnel in a variety of industries
  • Performs company-wide audits pertaining to various wage and hour issues, such as appropriate classification of employees as "exempt" or "non-exempt" under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-hour laws
  • Counsels multinational companies on the unique labor and employment law issues they face
  • Promotes compliance with EEO laws and other statutes governing the workplace
  • Represents employers in all aspects of labor and employment law, including discrimination, wrongful discharge, harassment, and employment contract cases

In 2019, Ms. Sholinsky was recommended by The Legal 500 United States in the area of Workplace and Employment Counseling. 

Ms. Sholinsky serves on the adjunct faculty of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where she teaches courses concerning human resources and the law. She also frequently speaks at events and webinars on employment law topics and authors numerous publications on employment law issues. Ms. Sholinsky is Vice Chair of the firm’s National Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Steering Committee and Vice Chair of the firm’s Diversity & Professional Development Committee. She is also a member of the firm's Finance Committee and the Executive Committee of the firm's Women's Initiative. Ms. Sholinsky is also comanager and lefty second baseman on the firm's softball team, the EBG Bees.

Rina Fujii

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C

RINA FUJII is an Associate in the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green.

Ms. Fujii:

  • Advises clients in connection with executive compensation and employee benefits-related aspects of corporate matters, including M&A, securities offerings, financings, investigations, and restructurings
  • Designs, and drafts documents for, public and private company compensation programs, including long-term equity plans and award agreements
  • Counsels clients on trends and best practices in corporate governance and executive compensation
  • Drafts and negotiates employment, retention, severance, and termination agreements
  • Conducts due diligence in connection with executive compensation, employee benefits, and labor and employment matters for M&A transactions, and drafts and negotiates provisions on such matters in purchase agreements
  • Advises on Section 409A compliance issues

Before joining Epstein Becker Green, Ms. Fujii was an attorney in the Executive Compensation group of an international law firm.

  • Columbia University School of Law (J.D., 2016)
    • Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
    • James Kent Scholar
    • Development Editor, Columbia Law Review
  • The Bard Graduate Center (M.A., 2008)
  • Harvard College (A.B., magna cum laude, 2005)
Bar Admissions
  • New York
  • Harvard Schools Committee
  • Japanese


Catherine F.

Excellent content and instruction

John R.

Both instructors did a great job!

Rene B.

Informative. Thank you.

Aney C.

Written materials were good.

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