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 U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has released an opinion (originally prepared on July 6, 2021 for the Deputy Counsel to the President) definitively stating that the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) statute, under which current COVID-19 vaccines were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “does not prohibit entities from imposing vaccination requirements” including “to return to work or be hired into a new job.” Although good news for employers wishing to impose such mandates (particularly in light of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s approval of such mandates under federal anti-discrimination laws, as discussed in our May 28, 2021 E-lert), they should keep in mind that such guidance is not necessarily determinative. And they should also consider any state vaccine restrictions.

Continue Reading U.S. DOJ States that Emergency Use Authorization Does Not Preclude Vaccine Mandates

Last month, the Tweet below went viral:

“I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I’ve just been asked in a job interview if I used lockdown ‘to pursue any passion projects or personal development.’”

Please, employers, I beg of you— find a different trendy interview question.


Continue Reading Employers – Do Not Ask About Pandemic Passion Projects!

On June 10, 2021, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued updated guidance for businesses on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation – taking into account the impact of vaccinations – along with a long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) applicable only to healthcare (which is not discussed in this E-lert).

Continue Reading OSHA’s COVID-19 Updated Workplace Guidance – What Employers Need to Know

NOTE: This post has been updated for guidance from the Maryland DOL on paid leave under the Essential Workers Protection Act.

Workplace guidance on COVID-19 keeps shifting at the federal and state level, which poses a challenge for all employers. For Maryland businesses, we thought it might be helpful to summarize where we stand as of early June 2021.

Although Maryland remains in a state of emergency, at this time, the Governor has lifted many of the restrictions that impact the private workplace, such as shutdown orders, most masking requirements, group limitations, travel, etc. This does not mean a return to normal, however, as federal guidance still applies, and more state guidance should be forthcoming shortly. In addition, local jurisdictions, such as Baltimore City, may still have restrictions – like masking while indoors – with which employers must comply.


Continue Reading UPDATED: Maryland Employers and Current COVID-19 Considerations: Workplace Safety Standards, Vaccinations, Masking, Paid Leave, and More

In addition to expanding and extending the tax credits that employers may opt to receive under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for voluntarily providing paid COVID-19-related leave through September 30, 2021, which we discussed in our March 12, 2021 E-lert, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) contains several other important employment-related provisions: (1) an extension and expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program, with the creation of a new restaurant grant program; (2) continuation of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits; (3) a new COBRA premium subsidy; and (4) extension and expansion of the employee retention tax credit.

Continue Reading Beyond Paid Leave – The Other Employment-Related Provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act