Return to Work Checklist for Texas Employers
Considerations for Texas Employers While Preparing to Bring Employees Back to Work
This is not an exhaustive list. It is an addendum to the Paychex Return to Work Checklist. Employers should consult with their HR professionals, legal counsel where appropriate, as well as the Texas Workforce Commission and COVID-19 websites.
☑ Consult guidance and examine timing of re-opening businesses
In early June, the state of Texas entered the third phase to re-open its economy, allowing additional businesses and activities to resume as part of its Opening the State of Texas plan. Businesses are subject to minimum standard health protocols established by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). A previous order allowed recreational sports programs for adults to resume operations, but games and competitions may not begin until June 15, 2020.
☑ What date should employees be recalled or rehired?
This may impact employers seeking loan forgiveness for their Paycheck Protection Program loan, as well as may establish entitlement to leave benefits under FFCRA.
☑ Understand any new or enhanced requirements to state or local paid leave laws
The cities of Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio passed either paid sick and safe leave ordinances since 2018, but none of the laws were enacted after being enjoined in court as a result of litigation by business coalitions.
☑ Understand the obligations under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) if you have unionized employees or an employment agreement, for non-unionized employees
Check applicable agreements for obligations. For example, a CBA may provide rehire/recall language, including agreed upon factors in order to bring employees back. Most changes will need to be negotiated with the union. For employment agreement obligations, employers should review the contract and, if in doubt, consult legal counsel.
☑ If an employee was terminated and signed a separation agreement, check the language to see if the rehire requires an amendment to the separation agreement.
☑ Consider providing letter offering return to work to employees
Reinstatement whether from furlough or permanent layoff and employee response should be in writing, and documenting offers and rejections may be important for unemployment insurance and for PPP loan forgiveness purposes.
☑ Review and adhere to internal policies and state/local laws on rehiring, if any, to determine any reinstatement of accrued sick leave, PTO, or vacation time, especially if these were not paid out at the time of furlough or layoff.
☑ Consider providing returning employees with the option to complete a new Form W-4 in case the employee wants to make changes upon returning to work.
☑ Explore whether “new hire” employee documents (i.e. employee handbook, handbook acknowledgment, direct deposit, employment agreement, etc.), are required and, if so, properly executed to ensure they are effective.
☑ Does the employee need to update an existing Form I-9 or complete a new Form I-9?
Review information and compliance requirements for Form I-9.
☑ Did employee elect COBRA or Texas coverage continuation, and what benefits will employee be entitled to upon their return?
☑ Determine status of health plans, cafeteria plans, and fringe benefit plans, such as vision and dental insurance
☑ Determine implications for 401(k), 403(b), and pension plans
☑ Evaluate executive compensation and exempt classification status to determine what, if any, changes are necessary. Also review any applicable employment or severance agreements.
☑ Consider appropriate health and safety actions related to COVID-19 pandemic
Learn what new supplemental policies on safety are recommended or required to be followed and documented. For example, measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and if safety gear such as masks and gloves must be provided to employees.
Additional considerations as you prepare to return employees to work include applicable wage and hour laws, especially if employees have different work schedules, pay rates, and classification under state and federal laws. Check out our Return to Work resource page for FAQs and view this Texas-specific webinar on navigating the state’s workplace for helpful information.