Labor & Employment

Video: Legal Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccination Policies – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that employers can institute mandatory vaccination policies, there are many legal considerations that come with those policies, especially as more employees return to work. And employers that do not mandate vaccines are wondering what workplace rules they can implement without legal risk. Attorneys Jennifer Barna and Nathaniel Glasser tell us more. You can also read more about the legal considerations of mandating vaccination.

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Small and midsize employers may be entitled to tax credits for providing paid leave related to COVID-19 vaccinations

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allows small and midsize employers, and certain governmental employers, to claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to their employees due to COVID-19. This includes leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations.

Click here for more information on eligible employers, the amount of the tax credits and how they are calculated, and how to claim the credit.

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Employees being infected with Covid-19 can have a significant impact in the workplace, including lost productivity and the self-isolation of groups of employees who may have been exposed, not to mention the potentially severe impact on the health of infected employees. Employers have duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 towards their employees to provide a safe system of work, as well as duties towards members of the public on their premises.

Given this, a measure employers may be considering, particularly as more workplaces begin to open up or people return from working remotely, is carrying out Covid tests in the workplace, or providing tests for employees to do on a regular basis. Read more…

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How should employers manage the COVID-19 vaccination rollout?

With COVID-19 vaccinations rolling out in Australia, employers may be considering asking their employees whether they have been, or will be, vaccinated against the virus. They may also be wondering whether they can, or should, require that their employees get the vaccine.

It is extremely important that employers consider their obligations, as well as their employees’ rights in relation to the collection, use, storage and disclosure of information regarding the health of employees, and in particular in relation to their COVID-19 vaccination status.

They should also understand that there are very limited circumstances under which they may be permitted to mandate that their employees are vaccinated.

In order to assist employers in managing the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, we ask the big questions in the context of Fair Work and Privacy considerations. Read more…

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FAQ: California’s Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Requires Paid Time-Off for COVID-19-Related Reasons

On Friday, March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed a new law that provides California employees with COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (CA CSPSL) for certain employees (covered employees) who have been affected by COVID-19. The law took effect Monday, March 29, 2021 and applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. The text of the law is available here. Read more…

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COBRA Benefit Included in American Relief Plan

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which includes, among its many provisions, a COBRA premium assistance benefit. This provision treats an individual eligible for COBRA assistance, for purposes of any COBRA continuation provision, as having paid in full the COBRA premiums for the period April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 (the Premium Assistance Period). This relief will be available for anyone who (1) becomes COBRA eligible during the Premium Assistance Period, (2) is currently enrolled in COBRA, or (3) is within their COBRA continuation period (generally 18 months) but did not elect or previously dropped COBRA coverage. Any person who qualifies for assistance and is currently enrolled in COBRA – or did not elect COBRA but is within their COBRA continuation period – must elect COBRA coverage within 60 days of receiving notice of the extended election period from their former employer.

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OSHA Launches New COVID-19 Initiatives: With More to Come

President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order (EO) on COVID-19 tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to: launch a national enforcement program, review and correct any shortcomings in their prior enforcement strategies and to determine whether any Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) were necessary and, if so, to issue an ETS by March 15, 2021.  The prior Administration had not issued an ETS, and was severely criticized by the Congress and labor unions.

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COBRA Changes under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act) into law on March 11, 2021. While direct payments to certain taxpayers and extending unemployment benefits have received most of the attention in the media, the Act also provides for the federal government to pay 100% of the cost of COBRA premiums for the period beginning April 1 through September 30 (the Subsidy Period). The federal government will pay for the cost of the COBRA subsidies by providing certain tax credits to the employer in the case of self-insured medical plans or the insurer in the case of fully-insured medical plans. Read more…

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New York Legislation Provides Employees with Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations

New York’s Legislature recently passed a bill, which, if signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, would temporarily amend the New York Labor Law to require New York employers to provide employees with up to four hours of paid leave per injection to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Since the four-hour leave is per injection, employers will have to provide up to eight hours of paid leave for two-dose vaccination regimens, such as those being manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. It is also possible that additional paid leave time will be needed if vaccine “booster” shots are required in the future.

Any such “vaccine leave” must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay and is in addition to (and cannot be charged against) any other leave to which an employee may be entitled, including under the State’s recently-enacted mandatory paid sick leave law. However, the provisions of this vaccine leave law may be waived in a collective bargaining agreement provided it explicitly references the law. Read more…

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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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