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 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  It is not clear to what extent the HERO Act would be superseded by the OSH Act, but for now employers must ensure that they comply with its mandates.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 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

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) became law on March 18, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  As we previously blogged on several (okay, numerous) occasions, the FFCRA comprises the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLA”), which provide paid leave in connection with certain COVID-19 related absences from work. Rather than go into each of those circumstances, you can click on any of the above links to our previous blogs.  Although most employers are required to offer EPSLA and EFMLA leave to employees, employers are not required to extend leave eligibility to a “health care provider.” 
Continue Reading Department of Labor Revises “Health Care Provider” Exemption to COVID-19-Related Paid Sick Leave and Enhanced Family Medical Leave

We have seen a significant number of OSHA investigations in recent weeks in response to reports of employee deaths and illnesses due to COVID-19.  In the height of the pandemic, employers, including nursing homes, were unclear regarding their obligations to report employee incidents of COVID-19 to OSHA due to the difficulty in determining whether such cases were “work-related.”  Below we have outlined OSHA’s reporting requirements and expectations regarding investigations into whether COVID cases are work-related, as well as some practices in responding to OSHA investigations.  Going forward, we encourage employers to ensure they are meeting OSHA requirements and are prepared to timely respond to requests for information as penalties for such violations can be significant.
Continue Reading OSHA Investigations and Employee Deaths and Cases of COVID-19

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued new guidance stating that employers cannot require employees to undergo antibody or serology testing to determine whether employees were previously infected with Covid-19 or are otherwise immune to the virus.  Employers cannot require antibody testing before allowing an employee to return to work or in assigning job duties.  The EEOC’s previous guidance allowing employers to test employees for current Covid-19 infection remains in effect.
Continue Reading EEOC Prohibits Covid-19 Antibody Testing

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues throughout the world, many workplaces have gone virtual. While the advent of technology makes a remote workforce possible, the newly remote workforce brings with it additional challenges to a company’s information technology (“IT”) systems. However, proper policies and procedures that govern the security of IT systems and employees’ use of such systems can go a long way to help protect an organization.

Continue Reading Covid-19 and the Challenges of a Remote Workforce