By Allegra Lawrence-Hardy and Lisa Haldar
Unsurprisingly, our 2022 employer resolutions are generally all tied in some way to
the COVID-19 pandemic -- vaccine protocols, remote work and even vacation
policies. While these issues are not new, the landscape under which employers are
addressing these issues has changed dramatically and continues to do so as the
OSHA’s Large Employer Vaccine Mandate in Limbo Following Court Action: Ten Steps Employers Should Still Take Now
On November 5, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) giving companies with at least 100 employees two choices: 1) require all employees except those with religious or medical accommodations to become fully vaccinated (which does not include receiving a booster shot) before January 4; or 2) require employees who are not fully vaccinated to begin wearing a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes after December 5 and undergo weekly COVID-19 testing after January 4.[i] Through the ETS, OSHA intends to preempt any State or local requirements that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, face-covering, or testing.
Department of Labor Issues Updated COVID-19 Workplace Guidelines and Required Safety Standards for Healthcare Employers
On June 10, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued updated COVID-19 safety guidelines for all employers1 and a long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”)2 containing safety requirements to protect workers who face the highest COVID-19 hazards – workers in healthcare settings treating suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. The updated guidelines were anticipated in light of the CDC’s updated guidance regarding safety protocols for fully vaccinated individuals. Employers in healthcare in particular should take note of the new standards.
On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued updated guidance, greatly expanding mask-free activities and limiting social distancing restrictions for fully vaccinated1 individuals (“Updated Guidance”).2 This guidance is based on the CDC’s findings that (1) studies demonstrate that currently authorized vaccines are highly effective at protecting fully vaccinated people against symptomatic and severe COVID-19, and (2) a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have an asymptomatic infection or transmit COVID-19 to others.
As COVID-19 inoculations in the U.S. slowly push back the immediate threat of the coronavirus, experts say employers should be aware that some workers will be dealing with mental health issues brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic.
The pace of employment law change continues to accelerate. We are often told the only constant is change. But can anything top the amount of unanticipated change employers experienced in 2020? We may discover in 2021. To succeed in this chaotic environment, employers need to be prepared to quickly recognize and adapt to new paradigms in the workplace. Click here for the issues and potential changes employers should consider as 2021 kicks off.
Today, the new Department of Labor (“DOL”) regulations interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) take effect. The revisions (“Revised Regulations”) to the April 2020 Final Rule (“Final Rule”) interpreting the FFCRA address four parts of the Final Rule struck down last month by a federal district court judge: (1) the work-availability exclusion; (2) the definition of “health care provider”; (3) the provisions relating to intermittent or periodic leave; and (4) some of the documentation requirements. New York v. U.S. Dep’t of Labor, No. 20-cv-3020, 2020 WL 4462260 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 3, 2020).
Now that some states are preparing to lift shelter-in-place orders that would allow businesses to reopen, employers are trying to determine the best way to have their employees return to work despite the continuing risks presented by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) issued guidelines advising employers about practices that they may take to control COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.
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