Monday Morning Minute
In This Issue
FMCSA Issues Emergency Declaration
House Advances Emergency Relief Bill to Senate
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                  March 16, 2020
 
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FMCSA ISSUES EMERGENCY DECLARATION IN LIGHT OF COVID-19
 
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") has issued an Emergency Declaration ("Declaration"). A copy of which can be found HERE

This Declaration took effect on March 13, 2020 and shall remain in effect until the earlier of:

a) the termination of the emergency as defined under 49 CFR 390.5; or
b) until 11:59pm Eastern Time on April 12, 2020.
 
The purpose of such Declaration is to provide relief from a category of required regulations under 49 CFR 390-399 for those providing Direct Assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The categories outlined under 49 CFR 390-399 which are exempted during this Declaration include the following:
 
390
FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY REGULATIONS; GENERAL
 
391
QUALIFICATIONS OF DRIVERS AND LONGER COMBINATION VEHICLE (LCV) DRIVER INSTRUCTORS
 
392
DRIVING OF COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES
 
393
PARTS AND ACCESSORIES NECESSARY FOR SAFE OPERATION
 
394
[RESERVED]
 
395
HOURS OF SERVICE OF DRIVERS
 
396
INSPECTION, REPAIR, AND MAINTENANCE
 
397
TRANSPORTATION OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS; DRIVING AND PARKING RULES
 
398
TRANSPORTATION OF MIGRANT WORKERS
 
399
EMPLOYEE SAFETY AND HEALTH STANDARDS

However, compliance with following categories regardless of the Declaration are required to be observed:
  1. Drug and alcohol use and testing requirements;
  2. CDL requirements;
  3. Insurance requirements;
  4. Hazardous material regulations; and
  5. Applicable size and with requirements or any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted under Sec. 390.23.
 
The definition of Direct Assistance applied by the FMCSA for these purposes refers to commercial motor vehicle operations that are needed for:
  1. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  2. Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants;
  3. Food for emergency restocking of stores;
  4. Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;
  5. Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes; and
  6. Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.
Mixed loads which may include these essential supplies, equipment and persons are not included in this emergency Declaration.
 
If you have any further questions, please contact a Spognardi Baiocchi Attorney of your choice.
CORONA VIRUS UPDATE:  HOUSE ADVANCES EMERGENCY RELIEF BILL TO THE SENATE 
 
This weekend the House passed and advanced an emergency bill to the Senate to deal with the panic-effects caused by the Corona Virus pandemic.  The 110 page bill has several components which focus on health and safety issues, including funds for testing and vaccines, and social safety nets.   The bill also contains equally important employment and stimulus measures until the virus burns itself out, or is managed through testing, treatment, and vaccination.   Some of the economic provisions affecting employers and employees are as follows, although the House bill is subject to changes during its journey through Congress to become law.
 
  • Emergency family and sick leave: Employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees and government staffers may take up to 12 weeks of protected family and medical leave, with two weeks at full pay, with any additional weeks taken with no less than two-thirds of the employee's usual pay, to either quarantine or seek preventative care. Small and mid-sized businesses would receive tax credits to pay for medical and family leave of up to 100% of the wages they pay out. Self-employed individuals would also receive tax credits to receive paid leave. Workers would be eligible for paid sick leave if they have a child whose school or childcare facility is closed due to the coronavirus. These employees are required to receive not less than two-thirds of their regular pay.
 
  • Unemployment insurance: States will receive additional funding to provide unemployment insurance should there be an increase in uninsured people.
 
In the meantime, Illinois employers should realize that employees will very likely receive unemployment benefits if they are laid off from their jobs for more than a week because of an economic downturn, or if they are sent home because of fear of contagion.  Additionally, employees who test positive or are ill with the Corona virus, but available to work but denied work by the employer, are likely to receive unemployment benefits under Section 602(A) of the Illinois statute.  It is unclear how the federal Corona stimulus bill will benefit employers who may suffer state tax increases because of an increase in their unemployment compensation claims.
 
Contact any Spognardi Baiocchi attorney if you need assistance dealing with this crisis and related laws.  
SPOGNARDI BAIOCCHI LLP is  a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to address the full spectrum of legal concerns for its business.  Our commitment is to find common sense solutions that fit each clients' unique situation to labor, employment, human resources and general business needs. 

With over 50 combined years of experience among its 2 founding partners in these areas, we can assist businesses in developing custom solutions to today's tough issues.  And as litigators, who combined have over thousands of trials  "under their belts" before state and federal courts as well as administrative agencies (such as the NLRB) you will find no better advocate and partner. 
 
For more information on the firm, please go to our website at www.psb-attorneys.com or Lisa at lab@psb-attorneys.com
DISCLAIMER: All content in this Monday Morning Minute is intended for general information only, and should not be construed as legal advice applicable to your particular situation.  No attorney-client relationship is created. Before taking any action based on the information contained herein, you should consider your personal situation and seek professional advice.