On November 5, 2021, on the same day that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued its COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (the “ETS”), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released its Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule (the “CMS Vaccination Rule” or the “Rule”).  The CMS Vaccination Rule requires certain healthcare providers to mandate vaccination against COVID-19 for all applicable staff.  The Rule, which permits medical and religious exemptions only as required by law, does not require testing of unvaccinated staff.
Continue Reading CMS Issues COVID-19 Rule Requiring Vaccination of Healthcare Staff

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has now issued the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) implementing President Biden’s September 9, 2021 COVID-19 Action Plan that requires employers with 100+ employees (1) to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing/face coverings for their workforce and (2) to provide paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from any adverse effects. Although the ETS is effective upon publication in the Federal Register on November 5, 2021, employers will be given until December 5, 2021 to come into compliance with everything but the testing requirement, which has a compliance date of January 4, 2022. The ETS will likely be in effect for six months.
Continue Reading OSHA’s Vax-or-Test ETS: What Employers Need to Know

The White House and the Task Force have softened the December 8, 2021 vaccination compliance deadline for federal contractors and subcontractors. (Big sigh of relief). And provided a little more guidance on employees with exemptions at federal worksites.
Continue Reading Hey Federal Contractors – There’s Flexibility on that Vaccination Deadline (And Some More Info About Exemptions)

On October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidance document, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, to address religious objections to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In a new section to the guidance, the EEOC draws upon previously-existing guidance for religious exemptions generally. While there are no real surprises, the collection of information in the guidance document is helpful.
Continue Reading EEOC Issues Guidance On Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

Last week the federal Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury issued joint FAQs that address questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and group health plans.  The FAQs are particularly relevant to those employers considering whether to provide incentives or impose surcharges under their group health plans to encourage employees to become vaccinated.  Here’s what employers need to know:

Continue Reading New Federal Agency Guidance on Vaccine Incentives and Surcharges: What Employers Should Know

As many employers implement a COVID-19 vaccination-or-weekly-testing mandate (soon to be required of all employers with 100+ employees, as we discussed here), a recurring issue is whether the time that employees spend getting that weekly test must be paid under federal and state wage and hours laws. And the answer is a lawyerly, “Well, it depends.” (Of course).

Continue Reading Do Employers Have to Pay For COVID-19 Testing Time?

A day after President Biden announced his COVID-19 Action Plan (which we discussed here), leaders from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration held a short briefing to discuss its forthcoming Emergency Temporary Standard that will require employers with 100+ employees to (1) mandate vaccinations or weekly testing, and (2) provide paid vaccination leave. The President’s announcement regarding these requirements was sorely lacking in details, but the OSHA briefing provided a few (not many) useful tidbits for nervously wondering employers.  (Be aware, however, that the ETS is not yet written, and it is possible that some of what they said today might not end up being accurate….)
Continue Reading A Few More Answers from OSHA on the Impending Vaccination ETS…

An issue that we’ve run into recently is what to do about employees who are vaccinated – but not with one of the FDA-approved vaccines (whether under Emergency Use Authorization (Moderna and J&J) or regular approval (Pfizer-BioNTech)). Perhaps they are participating in a clinical trial or maybe they were vaccinated in another country. Employers are wondering – is this really a valid vaccine? Can we require employees to go get a “real” vaccine?

Continue Reading Foreign COVID Vaccinations and Clinical Trials? What Employers Need to Know

And I’m pretty darned sure that many employers feel the same way. This issue has been coming up a lot lately with the burgeoning requests for medical exemptions in the context of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  TO BE CLEAR,  I am NOT questioning those employees with actual medical conditions that legitimately prevent them from getting a vaccine – I’m talking about those folks who just don’t want the shot, and get their doctors to write some nonsense note that has no actual basis in medical fact.  And frankly, this has been an issue generally beyond the vaccine. (It even showed up in my recent blog post about the employee who wanted to bring his dog to work).  So what can we do?

Continue Reading I’m Tired of Doctors Who Just Say Whatever the Employee Wants…

Trying to stay on top of federal workplace guidance on COVID-19 is confusing and challenging for employers, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has just changed the playing field again – although the new guidance is intended to conform with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recently-revised recommendations for fully-vaccinated individuals (as discussed in our August 4, 2021 blog post).

Continue Reading Again? What Employers Need to Know About OSHA’s Latest Update to Its COVID-19 Workplace Guidance