Labor & Employment

Regulators Clarify COVID-19 Relief Deadline Extension

Plan sponsors and administrators have been grappling with how to handle the possible expiration of the extension relief granted for certain deadlines applicable to group health plans under the “Joint Notice” published in May 2020 (the 2020 Guidance). With just two days to go before the 2020 Guidance was set to expire on February 28, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL), in coordination with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (collectively with the DOL, the Agencies), issued the EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 (the Notice), which clarified that the extension relief granted under the 2020 Guidance will extend past the February 28, 2021 statutory expiration date. Read more…

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Illinois Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Providing Leave for Employees to Get Vaccinated

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has issued March 2021 guidance for employers on “Compensation, Paid Leave and the COVID-19 Vaccine,” advising employers on providing employees with time off and flexibility in order to get the first (and as necessary, the second dose) of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mandatory Vaccination Programs

The IDOL guidance states that pursuant to the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, if an employer requires employees to get vaccinated, then the time the employee spends getting the vaccine “is likely compensable,” even if the employee gets vaccinated during non-working time.

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New York City Council Establishes Board to Assess Employers’ COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Protocols and Training

Our colleagues Susan Gross Sholinsky, Nancy Guzenhauser Popper, Eric Emanuelson, and Christopher Shur of Epstein Becker Green have a new post on the Workforce Bulletin blog that will be of interest to our readers: “New York City Council Establishes Board to Assess Employers’ COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Protocols and Training.”

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New York City Council Establishes Board to Assess Employers’ COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Protocols and Training

The New York City Council is planning to evaluate how effectively both the City, as an employer, and private employers disseminated and implemented COVID-19 workplace guidance over the past year with the goal of strengthening how the public and private sectors manage future public health emergencies. On February 28, 2021, the Council enacted Int. 2161-2020 (the “Law”), which establishes a board to review the workplace health and safety guidance that agencies and private employers issued to their respective employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly formed board will ultimately submit a final report and recommendations to the Mayor and Speaker of the Council by December 15, 2021. The Law is effective immediately.

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OSHA’s role to expand in combating the COVID-19 pandemic

Until just recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency responsible for keeping employees safe at work, has played a very limited role in doing so during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is about to change, however, with President Joe Biden’s issuance of an executive order on January 21, 2021, which calls the agency to action in protecting American workplaces. Read more…

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COVID-à manger: COVID-19 Takes a Bite out of French Lunch Traditions

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed dining habits across the world, as governments have shut down and restricted indoor and outdoor dining.  Even where restrictions have eased, many avoid sit-down dining out of concern for COVID-19 exposure and rely on take-away for their restaurant meals.  Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited dining options.

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Video: EEOC’s Proposed Wellness Regulations and Incentivizing Vaccines – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  In early January, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued proposed rules on using incentives to encourage employee participation in wellness programs. While we don’t know exactly how President Biden’s EEOC will adjust the proposed rules, attorney Frank Morris explains why employers should keep the rules in mind when offering incentives to employees for COVID-19 vaccination. Read more.

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The 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act Extends Pandemic Unemployment Benefits

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) which modifies or extends to March 14, 2021 many of the relief programs first created in March 2020 by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including three expanded unemployment insurance benefits programs (which we previously blogged about here) and a new benefit program for “mixed earners”.  We provide here a summary of the updates to those programs.

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President Biden Issues Executive Order on Workplace Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On January 21, 2021, in an effort to provide enforcement of more stringent worker safety standards, President Biden issued an Executive Order (‘EO”) on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. The EO specifically orders the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) of the Department of Labor to:

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ONTARIO’S SECOND PROVINCIAL EMERGENCY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE WORKPLACE

On January 12, 2021, the Ontario government declared a second provincial emergency under section 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, in response to the drastic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Stay-At-Home Order

As part of the provincial emergency, Ontario has issued a stay-at-home order that will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, January 14, 2021, and will last for at least 28 days. This stay-at-home order requires that Ontarians remain at home except for certain permitted purposes, including going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, exercising, or working, where permitted. The province has mandated that “all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home” (emphasis added).

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