On June 10, 2021, fifteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has issued its first ‘emergency temporary standard’ (“ETS”) governing the impact of COVID-19 on health care workers.

The ETS broadly requires healthcare employers to conduct an internal safety assessment and develop a safety plan, which must be in writing for all employers with more than 10 employees. The ETS further delineates requirements relating to patient screening and management, health precautions, masks and PPE,  aerosol-generating procedures, physical distancing, physical barriers, cleaning and disinfection, ventilation, health screening, vaccination, employee training, anti-retaliation, record-keeping, reporting occurrences of COVID-19 transmission, and paying employees for periods of quarantine. Consistent with recent CDC guidance, the ETS also contains carve outs on employee mask-wearing requirements where employees are all vaccinated or where employees are given reasonable accommodations exempting them from mask-wearing and/or vaccination requirements.
Continue Reading OSHA’s New Safety Rule: Health Care Workers and Beyond

While California inches closer to the state’s June 15 target to lift restrictions and reopen the economy, California employers will have to wait for guidance from CalOSHA on the standards that will govern COVID-19 workplace safety.  For now, CalOSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards released in November 2020 will remain in place and employers will need to continue to be mindful of these more restrictive guidelines, despite loosening of other state restrictions.
Continue Reading CalOSHA Withdraws Recently Proposed Revisions to its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS)

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has frequently released guidance on the many employment law compliance issues that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. The latest guidance issued by the EEOC concerns whether employers may implement vaccine incentive programs to encourage employees to get vaccinated without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Genetic Information Discrimination Act (GINA). In its May 28, 2021 Guidance, the EEOC advised employees that vaccine incentive programs are lawful under the ADA and GINA in certain circumstances.

Continue Reading EEOC Gives Okay for Employer’s Vaccine Incentive Programs in Certain Instances

On April 16, 2021, Governor Newsom approved S.B. 93, a statewide COVID right-to-recall law that faltered on its first attempt last October.  In the interim, a number of counties and cities passed almost identical measures, which will remain in effect to the extent they are more generous than the state law.
Continue Reading California’s COVID Right-to-Recall Law Unites Patchwork of Local Ordinances

Last month, the State of New York passed legislation which permits New York employees up to four hours of paid leave to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. While this new legislation became effective immediately upon passing on March 12, 2021, employers were left with many questions regarding their obligations under the law. In an effort to resolve some of these questions, the New York Department of Labor issued guidance in the form of FAQs to provide clarification for employers.
Continue Reading NY DOL Releases Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccination Leave

Covid-19 has left employers who want their employees back in the office in a difficult position. With the pandemic still raging, many employees are fearful of returning to the office with unvaccinated peers. In order to ease their employees’ concerns and provide a safe work environment, some employers are offering incentives to get vaccinated.
Continue Reading Legal Considerations of Employer-Provided Covid-19 Vaccine Incentives

The American Rescue Plan Act signed in March 2021 provides for a 100% COBRA premium subsidy for certain individuals who are eligible for and enroll in COBRA coverage between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. Employers sponsoring health plans should take action quickly to ensure that the subsidy is properly administered and consider its effects on any planned layoffs or other severance events.
Continue Reading COBRA Subsidies Under ARPA: Employer Action Needed

Employers with more than 25 employees must provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to their California employees under a recent law signed by the Governor.  This new law is broader than California’s prior COVID-19 paid sick leave law and, unlike the prior law, also covers employees who telework. The new sick leave entitlement is retroactive to January 1, 2021 and extends until September 30, 2021. 
Continue Reading California Passes New COVID-19 Sick Leave Requirements for 2021

California employers may mandate employee vaccination under new guidance from the State’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).  With the opening up of California businesses and expansion of vaccine eligibility, a key question facing employers has been whether they can require their employees to get vaccinated.
Continue Reading CA DFEH Issues Guidance on Mandatory Employee Vaccination

The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued guidance to state unemployment insurance agencies, expanding the categories of workers that are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The PUA program was created in March 2020 to provide payments to certain people affected by COVID-19, as well as independent contractors and gig workers who do not usually qualify for unemployment insurance.  While funded by the federal government, states are responsible for administering it. 
Continue Reading Department of Labor Expands Unemployment Insurance Eligibility To Include Workers Who Declined Work Due to Pandemic Safety Concerns