On November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor (“OSHA”), issued its long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”), applicable to employers with at least 100 employees.  The ETS was issued by OSHA pursuant to President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan, announced last month, and provides minimum requirements in the implementation of mandatory vaccination policies.  The 490 page ETS is effective immediately, and preempts or supersedes any state or municipal law that conflicts with its requirements.
Continue Reading OSHA Issues Long-Awaited Emergency Temporary Standard for Employers

Some people continue experiencing COVID-19 symptoms for weeks or months after first developing COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have defined “long COVID” as “new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”  With the rise of long COVID, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) provided guidance on Long COVID and how it qualifies as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
Continue Reading In It For The Long Haul: Employer Obligations To Employees With Long COVID Symptoms

In response to COVID-19 vaccination mandates and employer-mandated vaccination policies, federal agencies continue to issue guidance.  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have released additional guidance addressing common employer concerns regarding vaccination status, discrimination, and reasonable accommodations.
Continue Reading Handling COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates: Federal Agencies Continue to Issue Guidance

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?