Employer Guidance for COVID-19

Restore Illinois Phase Four Guidelines

All regions in Illinois are currently in Phase 4: Revitalization

Phase 4 FAQs
Statewide Reopening Metrics

How do we move to the next phase? Post-pandemic: Vaccine, effective and widely available treatment, or the elimination of new cases over a sustained period of time through herd immunity or other factors.

Gov. Pritzker Announces Bridge Phase Towards Full Reopening

Governor Pritzker just released details of a "Bridge Phase" of re-opening between Phase 4 and Phase 5's full re-opening. This Bridge Phase will begin when 70% of seniors aged 65 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. As of today, 55.8% of seniors 65+ statewide have received at least one dose.  During this Bridge Phase, more pandemic restrictions will be lifted. All regions of the state will move forward together rather than on a regional approach. The state’s mask mandate will continue in accordance with current CDC guidance. MORE DETAILS HERE

Everyone 16 and Older Eligible for Vaccination Starting April 12

Governor Pritzker announced today that starting on April 12, everyone in Illinois over the age of 16 will be eligible for vaccination. It's unclear at this time whether Chicago residents will have the same eligibility expansion at the same time, as the City of Chicago gets its own vaccine allocation from the Federal government, separate from those given to the State of Illinois. Currently, Chicago is in Phase 1B of its vaccination plan and expands to 1C on March 29. Chicago's Phase 1C includes a majority of adult Chicagoans, people ages 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions and all other essential workers. Chicago's current plan is for all adults 16+ to be eligible for vaccines starting May 31, but expansion could happen earlier if supplies increase. IDPH VACCINE INFORMATION

Vaccine Resources for Employers

COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit
The CDC has provided a toolkit to help employers educate their essential workers about this important new prevention tool. CLICK HERE

Illinois Department of Public Health Vaccine Resource - CLICK HERE

Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety Toolkit - CLICK HERE

How to talk about the Vaccine with Employees   ENGLISH   SPANISH

National Association of Landscape Professionals Vaccine Resource Site - CLICK HERE

Voluntary or Mandatory Vaccination?

Can Employers Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines?


Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Response Legislation

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
This legislation expands job-protected leave for American workers and expand unemployment insurance programs, among other relief initiatives. Click here for a high-level summary of the law’s paid leave-related provisions. 

Department of Labor Guidance - The Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Your business must be in compliance beginning April 1, 2020.

This poster is required to be posted in workplaces beginning April 1 to keep your employees informed about leave related to COVID-19.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers
Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights
Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements
COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act: Questions and Answers
COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act: Questions and Answers

COVID-19 Scenarios and Which Sick Leave Benefits Apply - CLICK HERE

Fear of Coronavirus isn't Covered by FFCRA - CLICK HERE

Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) HR Intake Form
As part of the FFCRA enacted on March 18, 2020, it is the responsibility of the employer to pay an employee's full salary for two weeks if the employee is sick with COVID-19. The employer is also required to pay 60% of an employee's salary for two weeks, if they are home with kids or caring for someone that is sick with COVID-19. This is federal law. You will need to track this carefully and comply with HIPAA. Below is a link to a standard intake form the employer can use to track employee information to ensure the accurate tracking and payroll adjustments. 




Resource Center
COVID-19 Testing
Sites in Illinois

Answers to the Most
Common HR Questions
with COVID-19

NALP Coronavirus
Resource Center
State of IL Corona
Virus Updates
COVID-19 and 
Benefits FAQs
CDC Approved 
Cleaning Products
DOL Issues 
Guidance on COVID-19 
and the FMLA

CDC Guidance for
 Agricultural Workers
and Employers
Small Business
Survival Guide
Landscape Industry 
Guidance for Business 
Operations During 
U.S. DOL Guidance on
Unemployment Flexibilities
During COVID-19 Outbreak
COVID-19 Resources
By State/Province
Illinois Workplace Health
& Safety Guidelines
COVID-19 Guidance
for Retail Workers


Best Practices

CDC Issues Guidance on Testing Employees for COVID-19 - CLICK HERE

Coronavirus Best Management Practices for the Green Industry - CLICK HERE

Communications Strategies and Tips in Challenging Times - CLICK HERE

Garden center retail survival strategy series: Communicating in extraordinary times - CLICK HERE

Best Practices for Nurseries - The California Department of Food & Agriculture developed a guide for both wholesale and retail nurseries. Although it was developed for use in California, we are seeing it being adopted in other states so you can be ahead of the curve by implementing these practices in your operation now - CLICK HERE FOR ENGLISH    CLICK HERE FOR SPANISH

CDC Guidance for Agriculture Workers and Employers - CLICK HERE

NALP Landscape Industry Guidance for Business Operations - CLICK HERE

EPA Guidance for Cleaning & Disinfecting - CLICK HERE
Approved Disinfectants for COVID-19
SaniDate 5.0 Approved Virucide Against Human Coronavirus - CLICK HERE

I Don’t Want to Wear a Mask…How Businesses Can Enforce the Policy Requirement - CLICK HERE

Garden Centers

Alternative Shopping Options - CLICK HERE
Curbside Pickup and home delivery option - EXAMPLE HERE  EXAMPLE HERE
Curbside and Concierge Options - CLICK HERE
Communication with Customers about Shopping Options -EXAMPLE HERE  CLICK HERE
How retail store managers can respond safelyCLICK HERE 
Communicate with your customers - CLICK HERE   ANOTHER EXAMPLE

Bailey Nurseries Marketing Resources - CLICK HERE
Proven Winners Marketing Resources - CLICK HERE

No Contact Plant Pickup - CLICK HERE

Get Online Shopping Setup Fast -CLICK HERE
Develop an Online Plant Database - CLICK HERE

Maintain Social Distancing Signage - CLICK HERE

Print and post the CDC fact sheets in high traffic areas of your business as a reminder for everyone.

What if An Employee Gets Sick With Coronavirus

The guidance below has been provided by Zlimen and McGuiness, PLLC, through a partnership with the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association. 

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, employers should consider taking steps to ensure the employee is cared for and ensure the safety of others. Treat positive test results and “suspected but unconfirmed” cases of COVID-19 the same. If the source of infection is known, identify if it was at the workplace or outside.

If the infection was contracted inside the workplace, it is strongly advised that the business take the following steps:
   • Notify your workers’ compensation carrier;
   • Place the employee on workers’ compensation leave (with pay); and
   • Record the infection in the employer OSHA 300 log.
If the infection was contracted outside the workplace there are several things to consider and implement to protect the company. If the employee is eligible for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) , place them on paid FFCRA leave and apply for an FFCRA payroll tax credit. While the employee should already be aware due to the FFCRA poster requirements, inform the employee that they may use this type of leave.

If your company offers short term disability, determine if and when employee is eligible. Additionally, the company should ask the employee if they grant the company permission to disclose the fact that the employee is infected.

If the employee consents to disclosing the fact they are infected, get the consent in writing. Then, the company should notify employee’s manager(s) or supervisor(s) that employee is infected with COVID-19 and is out on leave. For everyone else, respond to inquiries by disclosing employee is on a leave of absence for non-disciplinary purposes.

If an employee denies consent to disclose the fact that they are infected, notify employee’s manager(s) or supervisor(s) only that employee is on a leave of absence for non-disciplinary purposes.

Regardless of if the employee gives their consent to disclose the fact they are infected, the company must comply with any required notifications to OSHA or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The company should also notify the employee’s co-workers who may have come into close contact with the infected employee at work within the past 14 days. Co-workers should be told that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and may wish to see a healthcare provider. For employees who had very close contact with employee in past 14 days, send them home for a 14-day self-quarantine. In most cases, these employees will also be eligible for paid leave under the FFCRA.

If your company has more than one store or office location, the company is not required to notify other locations unless the employee visited those sites within past 14 days.

DO NOT identify the infected employee by name. To the extent reasonably possible, avoid making any direct or indirect references that would lead the co-workers to guess the identity of the employee. In many small businesses other employees may infer who the employee is, but that does not mean you shouldn’t do what you can to avoid having others find out about the employee’s private health information.

The company should also notify known customers, vendors, or third parties with whom the employee may have come into contact with through work (including customers who had direct close contact with the employee at a job site) within the past 14 days that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and may wish to see a healthcare provider. Again, DO NOT identify the infected employee by name. To the extent reasonably possible, avoid making any direct or indirect references that would lead the person to guess the identity of the employee. Again, we know this is hard to do in a small company, but try.

There is no guidance on how far a company should investigate for third parties who may have come into contact with an employee through work. It is safe to include any parties on the employee’s work calendar, co-workers who have had close contact, or other people readily available or known.

The employer should arrange for a deep and thorough cleaning of the employee’s work space if they have one. Other tools, equipment, and vehicles used by the employee should also be cleaned.

Employers should respond to inquiries by CDC or public health authorities if they are received. In this instance, the employer is allowed to disclose the identity of the employee and protected health information.

There is no obligation to report a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to the CDC. (The employee’s healthcare provider has that reporting requirement.)

Finally, having worked in the green industry for more than 25 combined years, we get it. Sending home every employee who had close-contact with a COVID-19 positive employee, may significantly reduce the company’s workforce and will impact the bottom line even more than it already has been. The company has to make some very hard decisions. If the business can continue to operate and enforce extreme social distancing measures, then it is up to the business owner to decide. If many or all employees of the business likely came into contact with the employee who tested positive, it may be best to shut the business down to the extent possible for a minimum of 2 weeks. While this sounds extreme, the alternative is that additional employees will actually contract COVID-19 and the spread of the virus within your company will require you to shut down even if you don’t want to.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Patrick McGuiness at [email protected] with any questions you have during this crisis.

The guidance above has been provided by Zlimen and McGuiness, PLLC, through a partnership with the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association. 

How to Handle a Positive COVID-19 Test - CLICK HERE

What to Do When Scared Workers Don’t Report to Work Due to COVID-19 - CLICK HERE