Navigating Process and Policy Changes Related to COVID-19

HR professionals must consider policies for scenarios that weren’t fathomable a year ago. Here’s how our customers are navigating the evolving regulatory environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In light of COVID-19, human resources (HR) professionals have a new mandate: Ensure the wellbeing of the workforce during the pandemic and help navigate the new normal.

But in an effort to protect the health and safety of workers and blunt the economic impact of COVID-19, company leaders and government legislators are creating new guidelines almost daily. The dynamic creates an unprecedented challenge for HR professionals, as they must react quickly to keep their organizations compliant while staying aligned with the changing needs of their workforce and business.

Here’s a snapshot of how the impact of COVID-19 varies greatly depending on the industry, geography, and workplace:

For HR professionals in essential businesses, such as healthcare facilities or grocery stores, a primary focus is workplace safety and instituting practices to keep workforces and the communities they serve safe in person-to-person, on-site interactions. 

At other companies, HR professionals are managing a fully remote workforce—and many are creating remote-work policies and assessing their legal implications for the first time. As companies start thinking about having these workers return to the office, HR professionals will have to align workplace safety with updated guidelines from numerous places, including government officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  

Companies that operate in multiple jurisdictions face varying guidelines at the local, state, federal, and even global level. This adds further complexity to businesses operations and workforce management during the pandemic. 

While the pace of governmental and regulatory disruption is unprecedented, companies that leverage the flexibility built into their HR system are best positioned to successfully navigate abrupt shifts in legal requirements and business needs.

What follows are some real-world examples of how our customers have leveraged Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) as they adjust their HR policies and processes to navigate the impact of COVID-19.

Complying with New Legislation and Government Guidelines

  • A retail industry customer faced a situation where law enforcement officials were sending its employees home because they could not prove they worked for an essential services business. The customer overcame this issue with a proof of employment document sent through Workday, available for download on a mobile device or as a printed document. 

  • A business services industry customer headquartered in the United Kingdom used data in Workday to calculate the amount to claim under UK legislation called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The company made 16,000 pay adjustments in one week, all done remotely. Also, to meet the shift in workforce demand, the company used the skills data in Workday to quickly move workers from private sector to public sector contracts.

  • A non-profit industry customer has used Workday HCM  to identify contract workers eligible for a wage subsidy through COVID-19 legislation. 

Adjusting Business Processes

  • The flexibility of the Workday business process framework has helped an insurance industry customer, enabling it to support its employees by quickly adding pay elements, configuring benefits, and adding additional time-off plans.

  • In fewer than two working days, a UK banking industry customer made several COVID-19-related changes in Workday, a task they wouldn’t have been able to complete in their old system.

  • With Workday HCM, a healthcare industry customer implemented new employee-tracking processes, including a new tag to track which employees are now working from home or on emergency leave. 

  • Another retail industry customer quickly added additional compensation for employees working during the pandemic, rolled out facemask training, and remotely processed payroll. 

Prioritizing Workplace Safety and Wellbeing

  • An executive at a life sciences company shared that they’re using Workday to track all their workers who may have COVID-19, and then planning how to deploy resources to support them.

  • A non-profit industry customer is using Workday HCM to help identify customer-facing frontline workers who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and moving them to other roles.

  • A utility industry customer has used the survey functionality in Workday to facilitate a new process around daily health certification: a health check-up in the form of a survey makes it seamless for employees to confirm they do not have a fever before they begin work.

    At Workday, we’ve taken advantage of the same survey functionality to create and roll out the Employee Sentiment Survey and People Leader Survey, which were designed to help us understand how employees are coping in the COVID-19 environment.

HR professionals face an unprecedented challenge, as they must react quickly to keep their organizations compliant while staying aligned with the changing needs of their workforce and business.

Implications of the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is major legislation affecting companies in the United States. Designed to sustain the economy through the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Act provides employers payroll tax relief in two ways: 

But for employers to claim tax benefits from the CARES Act, payroll departments must be able to calculate the credits or deferrals based on the provision requirements.

To help others quickly leverage the new law for sustaining business operations, Workday customers have been sharing their Workday product configuration solutions on Workday Community. Also, customers can use Workday Payroll to handily calculate tax credits authorized by the CARES Act, and can forward that information to third-party tax filing service providers.

Changes to Form I-9

Temporary changes to Form I-9 requirements are another regulation impacting Workday customers operating in the U.S.

When companies started shifting their operations to work remotely in response to COVID-19, federal regulators made temporary adjustments to the Employment Eligibility Verification procedures on the Form I-9. Form I-9 requires companies or an authorized representative to conduct an in-person review of identification documents for employment in the U.S.

However, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has made a temporary exception for some companies operating remotely, allowing them to conduct verification through video link, fax, or email until normal operations resume. USCIS requires employers to indicate on Form I-9 that the remote verification was due to COVID-19. 

Workday customers have been able to take advantage of these remote verification procedures through the flexibility of the Workday Form I-9 verification functionality.

Here’s another temporary change to Form I-9 policy: With the closure of department of motor vehicles and secretary of state offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some states have extended the expiration dates or validity of expired state IDs and driver’s licenses. In response, USCIS started accepting state IDs or driver’s licenses that expired on or after March 1, 2020, but which have been extended by their issuing state, as an acceptable form of identification for Form I-9 requirements and E-Verify, an online service that confirms employment eligibility.

To help Workday customers respond to the temporary change, Workday teams made a product update that allows submission of expired identification documents with the designation related to COVID-19, as required by USCIS.

Continued Support from Workday

In today’s environment, HR professionals have to consider policies for scenarios that weren’t fathomable a year ago. But this accelerated pace of regulatory change is the new reality—and necessary for coping with the impact of the pandemic. 

Here at Workday, we’re committed to helping our customers navigate COVID-19 legislation affecting HR processes. We’re continuing to analyze regulatory changes—including CDC and OSHA guidelines—across the globe for potential impact on workforce requirements, and as appropriate, we’re making product changes to support COVID-19 policy changes. We will continue to share these process and procedure solutions related to the COVID-19 pandemic—which cover time tracking, absence management, and more—on Workday Community. 

Chief Customer Officer Emily McEvilly put it this way in a blog about how customers have influenced new product configurations: “As the crisis continues, we’re adjusting to help customers face the challenges this period brings.” 

More Reading