North America

Virginia’s Workplace Safety and Health Standards for COVID-19

On July 27, 2020, Virginia became the first state in the nation to implement workplace safety and health standards for COVID-19.  The Safety and Health Codes Board adopted § 16VAC25-220, an Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19 (the “Temporary Standard”), which is designed to supplement and enhance existing Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (“VOSH”) laws, rules, and regulations that may apply to the prevention and control of COVID-19 in the workplace.  Virginia imposed these standards because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), the federal agency responsible for workplace safety, has thus far refused to make its own extensive recommendations mandatory.  Not surprisingly, the Virginia standards borrow heavily from existing OSHA guidance in most areas.

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Cyber Coverage in the Age of COVID-19 Need Not Result in Pandemonium

While businesses and their employees continue to operate in the “new frontier” of working-from-home during the COVID-19 pandemic and the gradual reopening of the economy, a serious risk continues to present itself: the threat of cybercrime. The increased use of remote access to work systems and related applications has made businesses a prime target for those unscrupulous individuals seeking to encroach on companies’ cyber-landscape. Flaws in VPNs, firewalls, and videoconferencing, for example, have exposed many companies’ electronic infrastructures to these incursions. Similarly, the at-home workforce has increasingly been subjected to social engineering attacks often cloaked as communications purporting to provide information about pandemic-related issues.

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Massachusetts Governor Extends Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

On July 21, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker extended the current moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic for an additional sixty (60) days, until October 17, 2020. That moratorium was set in “An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency” (the Act), signed into law on April 20, 2020, and was due to expire August 18, 2020. The Act provided the Governor with the authority to postpone the expiration date in increments up to 90 days.

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In Response to COVID-19, FDA Extends Enforcement Discretion for HCT/Ps Requiring Pre-Market Review

On July 20, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a six-month extension of its enforcement discretion policy for certain regenerative medicine products requiring pre-market review due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in a final guidance document entitled, “Regulatory Considerations for Human Cells, Tissues, and Cellular and Tissue-Based Products: Minimal Manipulation and Homologous Use,” this extension will give manufacturers additional time to determine whether they need to submit an investigational new drug (IND) or marketing application and to prepare and submit to FDA any required IND or marketing application before the enforcement discretion period expires on May 31, 2021. This extension should come as a welcome reprieve to manufacturers of affected products, many of which delayed seeking FDA approval of their products following release of the enforcement discretion policy guidance in November 2017.

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Video: First Workplace Safety Mandates, COVID-19 Employee Training, Masks Required at Major Retailers – Employment Law This Week

Featured in #WorkforceWednesday: This week, Virginia became the first state to issue workplace safety standards, but with guidance still varying widely, many nationwide businesses have begun requiring masks.

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The U.S. Department of Labor Issues New Guidance on Leave and Wage & Hour Issues Confronting Employers as They Reopen for Business

On July 20, 2020, the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) published new guidance for businesses reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is in the form of additions to the WHD’s existing Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs” or “Guidance”) and addresses issues arising under two leave laws—the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”)—and wage and hour matters governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

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Food Safety: Remote Inspections under COVID-19 and Other Key Provisions in the Foreign Supplier Verification Program

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly all aspects of everyday life, but sometimes it is easy to forget that the U.S. Government must also adjust its operations to be able to meet regulatory requirements during the pandemic.

One aspect of this adjustment includes the manner in which government agencies are confirming industry’s compliance with various regulatory burdens. For importers of human and animal food products, this adjusted practice includes remote inspections by Federal Drug Administration (“FDA”) investigators to confirm compliance with the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (“FSVP”), one of several regulations designed to implement the provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (“FSMA”). Read more…

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Video: COVID-19 Considerations for Employee Vacation Time – Employment Law This Week

Featured in #WorkforceWednesday: Employers are encouraging employees to use their vacation time this summer to avoid a crush of end-of-year vacations. But what happens when an employee vacations in a COVID-19 “hotspot”?  Attorney Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper explains.

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Getting Back to Work: What Employers Should Keep in Mind About Industry-Related Requirements for Returning to Work Following Shutdown

As employers begin to develop and implement plans for reopening and staff return to the workplace, they should be mindful of industry-specific requirements and guidance, which may apply where they operate.  Following are some examples that typify the sorts of industry-related requirements various states and municipalities have implemented:

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NYC Updates Face Covering FAQs for Indoor Activities

On July 13, 2020, the New York City Health Department released a COVID-19 Face Coverings Frequently Asked Questions document (“FAQs”), encouraging anyone in New York City to wear a face covering in any indoor setting that is not their home, even if proper social distancing, i.e., 6 feet of separation, can be maintained.  The recommendation comes as the City continues to reopen and more people are returning to the workplace.

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