HR & Practice Management
Approaching COVID-19 in the workplace, rehiring staff, what testing looks like, and more.
COVID-19 in the Workplace
What if I or a member of my staff is suspected of having or tests positive for COVID-19?
What to do if Someone on Your Staff Tests Positive for COVID-19
As more cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) are identified or suspected across New York State, and individuals and families are required or recommended for mandatory or precautionary quarantine, it is important that there is a common understanding of the risk to contacts of a suspected or confirmed case. View the Guidance on the Contacts of a Close or Proximate Contact of a Confirmed or Suspected Case of COVID-19
from the New York State Department of Health.
Coronavirus Diagnostic Tests
- There are a large number of gray market tests being marketed, not all with reliable results.
I want to test my patients for COVID-19 when they come to my dental office. What do I need to do that?
You must register as a dentist-owned laboratory with the New York State Department of Health POLEP (Physician Owned Laboratory Evaluation Program) – but currently there are no POLEP -authorized COVID-19 tests. POLEP registration allows both dentists and physicians to conduct CLIA-waived laboratory tests in their offices on their own patients where such tests are deemed necessary or useful to providing services to patients. CLIA-waived tests are those tests that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) consider simple and reliable enough not to need referral out to a CLIA laboratory. CLIA is short for the federal law called the “Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments." For dentists, these CLIA-waived tests are not for diagnostic purposes, but are screening tools for making appropriate referrals for medical care by physicians where appropriate prior to dental treatment. Currently, while there are some COVID-19 in-office tests that are deemed to be CLIA-waived through Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) granted by the FDA, none of them are on the current POLEP test authorization list in New York yet. This can change daily, so dentists need to check with POLEP daily for updated authorized test lists. To register with POLEP, go to: https://www.wadsworth.org/regulatory/polep.
FAQs on Diagnostic Testing for SARS-CoV-2
See NYSDOH for testing information
Testing for Dentists & Dental Hygienists
Coding & Billing Interim Guidance: PPE & Virtual Visits
How do I address COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and manage employee-leave during the pandemic?
"The Coronavirus and Employment Law: What does this mean for your dental office?"
View webinar by Matthew S. Feldman, Esq., from Feldman Kieffer law firm:
1. Protecting employees from COVID-19 exposure.
2. Addressing a COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.
3. Managing employee-leave during the pandemic.
4. Cost-saving strategies to mitigate the loss of workforce.
5. Resources to recover financial losses caused by the pandemic.
This webinar is only available to NYSDA members. Log in is required for viewing.
Will a borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness amount (pursuant to section 1106 of the CARES Act and SBA’s implementing rules and guidance) be reduced if the borrower laid off an employee, offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer?
No. As an exercise of the Administrator’s and the Secretary’s authority under Section 1106(d)(6) of the CARES Act to prescribe regulations granting de minimis exemptions from the Act’s limits on loan forgiveness, SBA and Treasury intend to issue an interim final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the borrower offered to rehire (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) from the CARES Act’s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. The interim final rule will specify that, to qualify for this exception, the borrower must have made a good faith, written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must be documented by the borrower. Employees and employers should be aware that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.
According to FAQ No. 40, the “SBA and Treasury intend to issue an interim final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the [employer] offered to rehire” but that refused to return to work from the PPP loan forgiveness calculation. The FAQ specifies that the employer must make a “good-faith, written offer” to rehire the employee, and must specifically document the employee’s rejection of that offer. The FAQ also indicates that the offer should be “for the same salary/wages and same number of hours” that the employee worked before the lay-off.
The FAQ does not specify how employers must document a former employee’s rejection to return to work, or if reducing an employee’s salary or hours will foreclose the exemption. Further, there are additional nuanced fact patterns that could use further clarification. For example, an individual may not refuse to return to work because of a COVID-19-related reason within the meaning of PUA. While presumably that should fall within the FAQ’s intent, further clarification is needed. Hopefully these uncertainties will be addressed by the final interim rule. Finally, FAQ No. 40 reminds employees of the importance of their return to work by stating that “employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.”
While it is uncertain when the final interim rule will be released, it is important to note that the second paragraph of the SBA’s FAQ provides: “Borrowers and lenders may rely on the guidance provided in this document as SBA’s interpretation of the CARES Act and of the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rules (“PPP Interim Final Rules”). The U.S. government will not challenge lender PPP actions that conform to this guidance, and to the PPP Interim Final Rules and any subsequent rulemaking in effect at the time.” This express statement provides employers direction that they may rely on FAQ 40 when applying for SBA loans, in seeking to rehire employees, and in calculating the amount of the loan that may be forgiven.
The SBA’s updated FAQ recognizes the loan forgiveness issue, promises a solution, and removes some of the strain employers are facing in deciding whether to apply for small business loans. This is a small win, which is all most of us are looking for during these trying times. Until further guidance is issued, whether through more FAQs or the final interim rule, we recommend that employers:
- Make any offer to return to work in writing
- Include a clear date by which the employee must respond, with notice that failure to respond shall be treated as a refusal to return to work
- Also include a statement that refusal to return to work may result in the individual being ineligible for continued unemployment benefits
Can staff come into the office to prepare for opening wearing a mask and with the proper social distancing protocols in place?
If they are preparing for emergency or urgent services, necessary staff could always have come in to do that because dental offices have been allowed to be open for emergency and urgent services. If it is preparing for routine services, one person at a time only can come in for a limited time to do specific tasks, but multiple people cannot come in at the same time. In all cases, people must always observe social distancing and wear masks if they are reporting to any work site for any reason right now. But there is no “preparing for reopening” exception to the current rules. All dental offices should be working on preparing a reopening plan using the attached template. Dental offices will fill this out mainly with the guidelines that the New York State Department of Health will issue for dental offices.
OSHA Guidance for Dentistry Workers and Employers
OSHA recently issued Guidance for Dentistry Workers and Employers: that information details recommendations
relating to hazard assessments, including the use of respiratory protection PPE like N95 masks, during aerosol-generating procedures. The agency also has recommendations regarding performing emergent vs. routine procedures.