In response to the rapidly evolving public health emergency, DWD understands COVID-19 has raised many questions by individuals, businesses, and organizations. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that relate to DWD’s services and information.
Planning ahead for a pandemic is an important step in protecting employee and customers' health and safety and ensures business continuity. We encourage you to make a plan; below are some resources to get you started.
Planning for a pandemic is similar to other contingency and continuity of operations planning your organization may have undertaken for other unforeseen emergencies and events. However, a pandemic presents a sustained emergency, with high levels of employee absenteeism and economic and social disruption for a period that could extend for months. For this reason, it represents a new type of threat and brings new requirements for planning.
If your business does not have any type of continuity of operations plan in place, this represents an opportune moment to prepare one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has very useful information on pandemic preparedness.
We suggest you use the CDC site as a starting point for learning more about planning for a pandemic outbreak. One important document available on that site is the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers.
Other resources exist regarding COVID-19 and infectious control measures.
Emergency Order #12, also known as the Safer at Home Order, requires all non-essential business and operations to cease. Essential Businesses and Operations are encouraged to continue operating. Food and beverage production, transport, and agriculture are considered "Essential Businesses and Operations" under the Order. Per paragraph 13.c. of the Order, an Essential Business includes:
Food and beverage manufacturing, production, processing, transportation, and cultivation; farming, livestock, fishing, baking, and other production agriculture, including cultivation, marketing, production, and distribution of animals and goods for consumption; businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, boarding, rescues, kennels, and adopting facilities; farm and agriculture equipment, supplies, and repair services.
Essential Businesses and Operations must, however, follow Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Specifically, paragraph 6 of the Order provides that: "All Essential Businesses and Operations and all businesses performing Minimum Basic Operations shall comply with DHS guidelines for businesses."
In addition, some transportation is included in the exemption Essential Businesses and Operations, specifically, "[a]irlines, taxis, transportation network providers (such as Uber and Lyft), vehicle rental services, paratransit, and other private, public, and commercial transportation and logistics providers necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order." Emergency Order #12, ¶ 13.s. The transportation for migrant workers to their places of residence is not covered under this exemption.
Employers who provide transportation for migrant workers are required, per Wis. Stat. § 103.917, to ensure that transportation must be safe and adequate. Employers should follow all social distancing guidelines when providing transportation to workers. Failure to provide safe and adequate transportation could result in orders to correct under Wis. Stat. § 103.965(1) and penalties, under Wis. Stat. § 103.97, if the violation is not corrected.
Additional COVID-19 Resources for Employers and Workers.
To provide flexibility for stakeholders, to reduce the burden on Youth Apprenticeship (YA) consortia, and to provide options for students to complete their 2019-2020 YA program amid the COVID-19 Health Emergency, the Department of Workforce Development has implemented revised minimum completion requirements and FAQ guidance for the school year. Learn about the Youth Apprenticeship 2019-2020 Program Operations COVID-19 Emergency Policy Change.
DWD WIOA Title I staff have compiled a list of frequently asked questions COVID-19 Coronavirus and Wisconsin's WIOA Title I Program for local Workforce Development Boards and service providers that can be found on the WIOA Title I COVID-19 Partners and Practitioners Information page.
Job Center staff are available to assist employers with their hiring needs via email, phone, and Skype; contact 888-258-9966 or JobCenterofWisconsin@dwd.wisconsin.gov to get connected to a Business Services representative. All physical job center locations are closed to the public.
Some employers may have an increased demand for workers as continue to provide essential services. DWD has created a webpage to connect job seekers to the in-demand jobs posted on JobCenterofWisconsin.com. These jobs are in occupations like healthcare (e.g., registered nurse and pharmacist), transportation and material moving (e.g., laborers and freight, stock, and material movers), and light truck or delivery service (e.g. drivers to transport supplies, food, and other products that still need to be delivered to grocery stores, restaurants, and hospitals.
Employers looking to connect with job seekers can post positions for free on JobCenterofWisconsin.com, Wisconsin's free online job search tool. Both employers and job seekers can connect on the site without charge.
Governor Tony Evers has directed that all events with more than 250 people be cancelled or rescheduled. Large job fairs schedule through May 15, 2020 have been cancelled. Smaller events like hiring events and onsite interviews have also been cancelled. Employers that were scheduled to participate will be contacted by the local organizers with information regarding refunds and rescheduling.
As directed in Emergency Order #12, employers at essential businesses must implement social distancing requirements - the practice of keeping at least six feet apart from others and avoiding direct physical contact - as much as possible.
Please note that, to combat the spread of COVID-19 infection, our offices are practicing social distancing. Here's what that means for our customers:
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) has implemented a state mandated Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). This plan will insure the continuation of services to our consumers in the event of a structural disaster or pandemic disease outbreak. It is important that DVR continue to provide necessary rehabilitation services to our consumers that count on us. This includes our important external service providers.
Planning for pandemic disease is important in protecting employee and consumers' health and safety and to ensure your business continuity. We encourage you to take it seriously and point you toward some resources to get you started. Planning for a pandemic is similar to other contingency and continuity of operations planning your organization may have undertaken for other unforeseen emergencies and events. However, a pandemic presents a sustained emergency, with high levels of employee absenteeism and economic and social disruption for a period that could extend for months. For this reason, it represents a new type of threat, and brings new requirements for planning.
If your business does not have any type of continuity of operations plan in place, this represents an opportune moment to engage in preparing one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has very useful information on pandemic preparedness.
We suggest you use that site as a starting point for learning more about planning for a pandemic outbreak. One important document available on that site is the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
Other resources exist regarding COVID-19 and infectious control measures
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation relies on our partners to provide essential products and services for individuals with disabilities. During this pandemic outbreak, your agency may also be impacted and experiencing employee absences and product shortages to perform routine and essential operations. If that would occur and services will be interrupted temporarily or no longer be provided, it is essential that you notify DVR as soon as possible so that other services arrangements can be made.
If you feel you cannot, for any reason, provide the services or wish to pause services; please inform either the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) or the Workforce Development Area (WDA) Director AND email the DVR service provider mailbox so that the information can be tracked centrally.
It may be necessary to pause services for a period of weeks to allow for reduced person-to person-contact. If a DVR consumer does not wish to meet with you, please notify the VRC with that information. Many DVR consumers have health conditions which should be taken into consideration when planning for meetings and continued services.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance.