Florida State COVID-19 FAQs
- Human Resources
6 min. Read
Last Updated: 06/10/2020
Table of Contents
As Florida re-opens and businesses restore or start planning to restore operations, we at Paychex remain dedicated to serving you, your employees, and your business. Please see below for guidance and best practices around some common questions related to these new challenges for Florida.
What are the eligibility requirements for Unemployment Insurance (UI) in Florida?
In Florida, Unemployment Insurance is called Reemployment Assistance. Although specific eligibility requirements may vary by state, employees in Florida generally qualify if they:
- Lost their job through no fault of their own, and did not quit for personal reasons or were terminated for misconduct;
- Are totally or partially unemployed;
- Have a minimum amount of wages earned in what is called the "base period," which is the first 12 months of the past 15 months from when an employee filed a claim;
- At the time of application, are able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work, unless otherwise exempt from this requirement. This includes being physically able to perform a job and having child care if necessary.
For more information on eligibility requirements, how to apply for, and how to file for Reemployment Assistance, please visit Florida’s Department or Economic Opportunity (DEO) Reemployment Assistance Service Center, review the DEO’s Reemployment Assistance Handbook and Reemployment Assistance Resource Guide for COVID-19, or visit the DEO’s website.
What general information/document will a claimant need to apply for benefits?
When applying for Reemployment Assistance, individuals should have:
- Their social security number.
- Their driver’s license or government/state ID number.
- Information for each of their employers for the last 18 months such as:
- Employer name and contact information (i.e., phone number and address).
- Dates of first and last day of employment.
- Employer identification number, or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). Note: This can be found on your Form W-2 or Form 1099.
- Gross earnings before taxes covering the last 18 months of employment.
- Reason for separation.
Note: Most of the above information can be found on an employees’ pay stub or Form W-2.
Additional information may also be required for select individuals. For example:
- Non-U.S. citizens will need their alien registration number or other applicable work authorization form(s).
- U.S. Military employees will need to provide a copy of their DD-214 form.
- Federal government employees will need to provide their SF-8 or SF-50 form, as appropriate.
- Union members should provide the name of their union, the hall number, and phone number.
For more information, visit Florida’s DEO Reemployment Assistance Service Center, review the DEO’s Reemployment Assistance Handbook and Reemployment Assistance Resource Guide for COVID-19, or visit the DEO’s website.
Employee Safety & Concerns
Where can I find state and county-specific requirements for using safety equipment or other personal protective equipment such as face masks in the workplace?
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Ron DeSantis has issued several different Executive Orders for the State of Florida on topics ranging from general stay-at-home orders to re-opening requirements for businesses. Although Executive Order No. 20-112 does not explicitly require the use of masks (though some Florida counties do, as further stated below), it does highly recommend that employers, their employees, and all customers follow the latest CDC guidance when in public and/or in the workplace. Currently, the CDC recommends encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings at work. In addition, some businesses (e.g., barbershops and cosmetology salons) are required to wear masks when performing personal services. For more information on this, please visit Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Emergency Page or review the corresponding Restaurant and Food Establishment FAQs and Barbershop and Cosmetology Salon FAQs.
On May 4, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis began Phase 1 of the Plan for Florida’s Recovery which outlined the basic requirements needed for businesses to reopen, as well as the recommended safety precautions for the public to follow. Because there is no state-wide Executive Order mandating the use of face masks in public, many of Florida’s 67 counties have implemented their own Emergency Orders addressing the issue. For county-specific regulations for the use of personal protective equipment in public, or for general guidelines regarding symptom screening in the workplace, visit your applicable county’s website.
If either state/local law or an employer requires employees to wear any safety equipment or other personal protective equipment in the workplace, such as face masks, the employer is responsible for paying for and providing this equipment. Additional safety requirements may also apply if your business is already subject to OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard, OSHA regulations generally, or other federal, state, or local industry-specific requirements.
If some individuals cannot wear masks due to medical conditions and/or religious accommodations, employers should have discussions with these individuals about further accommodations that can be explored and/or request any appropriate documentation that may be needed.
Employers can also require employees to wear additional safety equipment like face/eye protection, gowns, gloves, or other equipment suggested by OSHA, and should review the guidance published on OSHA’s website for recommended practices.
For more information, visit Florida’s Department of Health COVID-19 Response Page or Florida’s COVID-19 Resource Center, explore the Paychex COVID-19 Help Center, review our WORX article, and follow safety guidance provided by OSHA, the CDC, and your state or local agencies.
As an employer in Florida, how do I properly conduct COVID-19 temperature testing in the workplace for employees and visitors?
Temperature testing/screening can be conducted on-site at businesses to determine if an individual has a fever. Based on CDC guidance, a fever is one of many symptoms of COVID-19 and conducting temperature screenings may be one way to potentially protect your employees and business. However, a fever does not always indicate COVID-19 and some with COVID-19 never experience a fever. Therefore, it is one method to consider, but alone may not necessarily be the most effective way to protect a work environment. Temperature testing/screening may also put the employee(s)/individual(s) assigned to take temperatures at a higher risk of exposure, which can create additional concern(s). Other safety methods to consider may include the reorganizing of work spaces to ensure individuals are spaced six or more feet apart, implementing or continuing remote work capabilities, if applicable, and/or staggering you staff to work on specified days. CDC guidelines also allow for virtual health screenings to be conducted rather than in-person health checks. For more information on this, please review the CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit, General Business FAQs, or visit their COVID-19 website.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers temperature testing/screening as a “medical examination” and allowance is only due to the CDC and state/local authorities determining COVID-19 is community spread and a direct threat. Therefore, the EEOC may revise this guidance.
Before conducting temperature testing/screening, consider consulting with an HR professional and/or your legal counsel to ensure compliance with state and/or local law.
If an employer plans to implement in-person temperature screenings at their business after discussing their options with an HR professional or legal counsel, they should consider:
- Who will take temperatures and how that person will be protected from exposure,
- Where temperatures will be taken,
- When temperatures will be taken,
- How temperatures will be taken,
- How the temperature screening equipment will be sanitized,
- Will the information/readings will be recorded,
- If recording this information, how will it be recorded and confidentially maintained separate from the employees’ personnel files,
- What steps to take for a high temperature,
- What safety protocols will be put in place and how they will be communicated to the screener(s) and employees,
- Whether the time waiting for and undergoing the screening process is compensable time.
All temperature screenings should be administered based on legitimate and nondiscriminatory business needs and should be as non-invasive as possible. Employers should also consider whether a third-party vendor will be used to conduct such screenings. Lastly, the results of such testing should be kept as a confidential file and separated from an employee’s personnel file.
For more information, visit Florida’s Department of Health COVID-19 Response Page and Florida’s COVID-19 Resource Center, explore the Paychex COVID-19 Help Center, review our WORX article, and follow all safety guidance provided by OSHA, the CDC, and your state or local agencies.
If COVID-19 is contracted after returning to work, is this covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance?
Workers' Compensation insurance protects employees from on-the-job injuries and illnesses, however, it doesn't usually cover diseases that are unrelated to employment. If an employee contracts COVID-19 because of the nature of their work, they may be provided coverage. Some states have also proposed changes that would broaden these rules and/or provide additional coverage. Be sure to consult with an HR and/or insurance professional for more information or visit Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation website.
What resources are available regarding remote workplace conditions and regulations?
Governor Ron DeSantis’s Executive Order No. 20-91 encourages people to work remotely, if possible, and encourages businesses to provide delivery, pickup, and take orders online or by telephone, if applicable.
When implementing a work from home policy, employers should consider:
- Reimbursements for reasonable business expenses and/or workstation or required office equipment/technology.
- Covering necessary work-related travel expenses and mileage, if applicable.
- Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage in the event of a workplace accident.
- Setting clear guidelines for and expectations of remote workers.
- Compliance with general employment law regulations such as providing employees with a company handbook, providing and enforcing meal breaks, and ensuring that time tracking methods are available, if needed.
Before deciding to implement a work-from-home program for your business, be sure to consult with an HR professional and/or your legal counsel to ensure compliance with federal, state, or local law.
For resources on planning for, implementing, and managing a remote workforce, read our Strategies for Managing Remote Employees WORX article "Strategies for Managing Remote Employees" and check out our previously recorded Managing Virtual Work Teams and The Virtual Workplace: Four Pillars of Effective Remote Management webinars.
What resources are available for individuals who travel or plan to travel?
Employers should review any current travel restrictions for domestic or foreign travel and should relay this information to their employees.
For more resources on travel, please visit Florida’s COVID-19 Response Travel Page for a full breakdown of the most up-to-date travel information, and review the Executive Order No. 20-112 FAQs and Florida’s COVID-19 Response Page’s FAQs.
What are an employer’s obligations under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which includes both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)? Do these Acts cover situations including leave for lack of childcare?
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) are both included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Employers should consider consulting with an HR professional and/or legal counsel to review their obligations under the FFCRA. Generally, the FFCRA provides employers with under 500 employees an option of refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for specific qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from providing certain paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave if providing an employee such leave would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. This is not an automatic exemption. The guidance provides for the criteria and documentation for consideration. The guidance further suggests that determination for an exemption must be documented at the time of each leave request. Employers with fewer than 25 employees may be exempt from certain provisions related to job protection. If considering claiming an exemption, and employer should consult with legal counsel to fully understand the complex parameters of these exemptions.
FFCRA requires employers to provide paid leave through two separate provisions:
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) – employers must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick time to eligible full-time employees, and a pro-rated amount of paid sick time to part-time employees, when they are unable to work for certain qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) – employers must provide paid family and medical leave to eligible employees who take leave related to a new qualifying reason related to the employees need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed due reasons related to COVID-19.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave – Under the EPSLA there are six qualifying reasons for which an employee is entitled to take paid leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work (including unable to telework) because the employee:
- is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to an order (described in 1) or self-quarantine (described in 2);
- is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable, now including summer camps or programs) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
- is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Under the EPLSA a full-time employee is eligible for up to 80 hours of EPSL, and a part-time employee is eligible for EPSL in an amount equal to the average number of hours the employee works over a two-week period, for any combination of the six reasons above.
When taking EPSL for any of the six qualifying reasons, the employee has the independent discretion to use their EPSL entitlement or any accrued paid leave provided by the employer under company policy or jurisdictional leave law where the reason for leave is consistent with the policy and/or law. However, the employee cannot be forced to use other available paid time prior to using their EPSL entitlement.
Expanded Family Medical Leave – Under the EFMLEA, an employee qualifies for Emergency Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML) for only one reason – if the employee is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider, which now includes summer camps or programs, is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19. An eligible employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of expanded family and medical leave; however, the first two weeks of EFML are unpaid unless EPSL or another applicable paid leave is used. Under the EFMLEA:
- Employees who have been on their covered employer’s payroll for at least 30 calendar days for a covered employer would be eligible for leave. An employee is considered to be employed for at least 30 calendar days if the employee had the employee on its payroll for the 30 calendar days immediately prior to the day the employee’s leave would begin.
- An employee is eligible for up to 12 total weeks of leave under EFMLA for the same reason as (5) above. The first 2 weeks of EFML are unpaid but eligible employees may receive pay under EPSL taken for the same reason.
- Employees taking leave under the EFMLEA must be permitted to elect to use any available paid time off including vacation, personal time, medical leave and/or sick leave during the first 10 days of their EFML, including EPSL. Following the initial 10 days of EFML, when the employee becomes eligible for EFML pay, employers and employees may agree, where Federal or state law permits, to have accrued paid leave supplement the two-thirds pay under the EFMLEA so that the employee receives the full amount of their normal pay.
All covered employers are required to post the Department of Labor’s model notice in a conspicuous place. Other ways employers can satisfy this requirement include:
- Emailing or direct mailing the notice
- Posting on an internal or external employee information website
Employers must also retain documents and information regarding FFCRA leave for a period of four years, regardless of whether the decision was made to grant or deny the request for leave.
For tax credit purposes, the U.S. Department of Labor requires employers to maintain the following for four years:
- Documentation to show how the employer determined how much paid leave the employee was eligible for (e.g., records of work performed, telework, and paid leave credits)
- Documentation to show how the employer determined the amount of qualified health plan expenses that were allocated to wages
- Copies of any completed IRS Forms 7200 and 941 that the employer submitted to the IRS (or provided to a third-party payer to meet an employer’s employment tax obligations).
For more information on FFCRA, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, review the Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, visit the Department of Labor’s resource page, or explore the Paychex resources outlined below:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Help Center
- Guidance Updates on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act WORX article
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Funding, Tax Credits, and Paid Leave Laws Expanded to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic WORX article
How is Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness affected by an employee who quit or resigned from their position?
According to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Interim Final Rule, Full Time Equivalent (FTE) reductions that are caused by employees who voluntarily quit and/or resign from their positions will not reduce loan forgiveness. Employers who have utilized a PPP loan should also document any individual’s resignation as evidence of this exception, as applicable.
For more information, please review the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans FAQs or explore our WORX article "What is the Paycheck Protection Program and What Do Businesses Need to Know About Loan Forgiveness?".
Where can I find return to work information, safety guidelines, and regulatory updates?
As multiple states begin resuming business operations, Paychex remains dedicated to serving you, your employees, and your business. That’s why we’ve developed several online resources to help you remain up to date on your state's ever-evolving policies and executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic and return to work protocols.
Paychex Return to Work Resources:
Paychex Safety/Legal Resources:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Help Center
- After the Pandemic: What’s Next for Your Employees WORX article
- Infectious Disease Outbreak Plan: Considerations for Employers WORX article
- White House Guidelines for Opening Up America Again during COVID-19 Pandemic WORX article
- Coronavirus at Work: Frequently Asked Questions WORX article
- Preventing and Managing Illness in the Workplace WORX article
- Download Your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) WORX Guide
Paychex Pre-Recorded Webinar’s:
- Florida’s Department or Economic Opportunity website
- Florida’s Department of Health COVID-19 Response Page
- Florida’s COVID-19 Resource Center
- Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Emergency Page
- Florida Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Resource Center
- Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard
- Florida Division of Emergency Management website