On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. The order directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace. On June 10, 2021, OSHA announced a highly-anticipated Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) setting forth steps that employers in the healthcare industry must take to protect workers from COVID-19 risks while the pandemic is ongoing. The ETS will become effective 14 days after it is formally published in the Federal Register. Continue Reading OSHA Announces COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare Industry
On May 14, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) in a 315-101 vote, moving the bill to the Senate for consideration. If passed, private sector employers with 15 or more employees and public sector employers will be required to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (i.e., employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions). However, employers are not required to make an accommodation if it imposes an undue hardship on the employer’s business. Continue Reading Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Gains Steam, Passing House of Representatives – What Do CT, MA and NY Employers Need to Know?
On May 5, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act), which imposes on all non-public employers significant health and safety standards intended to address the spread of airborne infectious diseases, like COVID-19, in the workplace. The HERO act is touted as the “first-in-the-nation” statute of its kind, apart from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which until now has governed applicable workplace safety standards. It is not clear to what extent the HERO Act would be superseded by the OSH Act, but for now employers must ensure that they comply with its mandates. Continue Reading New York Enacts HERO Act Requiring All Employers to Implement Health and Safety Standards to Address Airborne Infectious Diseases
To encourage more people to obtain the COVID-19 vaccines, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 permits eligible employers of small and medium-sized businesses to claim refundable tax credits to reimburse them for the cost of providing paid time off for employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and recover from any potential side effects related to the vaccines. The tax credits are available from April 1 through September 30, 2021. This means that employers who provided employees with paid leave before April 1, 2021 will not be reimbursed for the wages paid. Continue Reading IRS Provides Guidance on Tax Credits for COVID-19 Vaccination Paid Time Off
The CDC has recently recommended that employers appoint “vaccination ambassadors” to encourage employees to get vaccinated. The EEOC has not commented on the CDC’s recommendation, but based on other pandemic-related guidance issued by the EEOC, employers should consider the employment risks associated with a vaccination ambassador. These risks include the following: Continue Reading Is a “Vaccination Ambassador” a Good Idea?
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic stimulus bill which provides eligible qualified beneficiaries with up to six months of free COBRA continuation coverage during a temporary COBRA premium subsidy period beginning April 1, 2021 and ending September 30, 2021. Continue Reading New COBRA Premium Subsidy Law Requires Prompt Action by Employers and COBRA Administrators
On March 12, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law an act requiring all New York employers, regardless of size or industry, to provide employees with paid COVID-19 vaccination leave of up to four hours per injection, effective immediately. Continue Reading New York Requires Paid Time-Off for COVID-19 Vaccinations
On March 4, 2021, Governor Lamont signed into law the CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair. Connecticut follows California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado, Washington, and Virginia in adopting legislation that aims to prohibit discrimination on the basis of ethnic hairstyles historically associated with race. Continue Reading Connecticut Prohibits Hair Discrimination
Beginning on January 1, 2022, paid leave benefits under the Connecticut Paid Leave program (CPL) will be available for certain qualifying events under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CT FMLA), and the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act. In the meantime, employers are responsible for complying with certain key dates in advance of January 2022. On January 1, 2021, employers began withholding employee contributions (0.5% payroll tax) from each employee’s paycheck for ultimate remittance to the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority trust fund, which will fund the payment of CPL benefits. Continue Reading Reminder: First Quarterly Payment Due on March 31, 2021 Under CT Paid Family and Medical Leave
On January 29, 2021, OSHA posted new guidance intended to inform employers and workers in identifying risks of exposure to COVID-19. The new guidance applies to industries outside of healthcare. OSHA previously issued separate guidance applicable to healthcare and emergency response. The guidance does not create any new legal requirements or obligations, but is advisory only. OSHA intends for the guidance to assist employers with planning. Continue Reading OSHA Issues New Guidance on COVID-19