Government-imposed stay-at-home orders, essential business designations, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and employers’ duty to bargain under the National Labor Relations Act recently collided. To complicate matters, unions have proven very aggressive in their demands for information about employer’s responses to COVID-19.

Many unions have demanded decision bargaining over layoffs, or changes in health and safety rules, claiming, in the case of layoffs, that the employer is furloughing employees, as if rebranding a layoff will trigger a bargaining obligation. Employers managing union-represented workforces with or without collective bargaining agreements will likely be able to thread the needle by carefully reviewing their agreements and their existing practices and by thorough, thoughtful and strategic planning.

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Originally published in Law360.