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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance on workplace vaccination programs that reiterates and expands upon prior guidance on this topic, with the intent of increasing vaccine uptake among essential (and other) workers. According to the CDC, vaccinations benefit both employers and employees by keeping the workforce healthy, reducing absences, and improving both productivity and morale. The CDC offers specific tips on the following topics: vaccination options, on-site and off-site vaccinations, building confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, determining when employees may be vaccinated, vaccine mandates and exemptions, best practices, other considerations, and reopening the workplace.

Continue Reading The CDC’s New Guidance on Workplace Vaccination Programs; What Employers Need to Know

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), which was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, both expands and extends the tax credits that employers may opt to receive under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for voluntarily providing paid COVID-19-related leave through September 30, 2021.

Continue Reading Employers May Now Voluntarily Provide Up to 14 Weeks of Paid, Expanded FFCRA Leave and Receive a Tax Credit

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new, more relaxed COVID-19 protocols for fully-vaccinated individuals. Notably, among the guidance, the CDC stated that such individuals should continue to “[f]ollow guidance from individual employers.” But should employers modify their existing guidance to account for these new protocols?

Continue Reading Looser COVID-19 Rules for Vaccinated Individuals? What This Means for Employers

With case rates declining and COVID vaccine options expanding, five States as of March 8, 2021 have announced the end of all pandemic-driven restrictions, including mask mandates. (The lifting of Texas’ ban takes place on March 10; eleven states never mandated face coverings.) The “mask wars” had been tamped down by State mandates, but détente has ended in the “open” States. What does this mean for workplaces?

Continue Reading What to Do About Workplace Masking in the “Open” States

In addition to the voluntary extension of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s paid leave provisions, which we discussed in our December 22, 2020 E-lert, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (the Act), included in the massive (5593 page) stimulus bill signed into law on December 27, 2020, expands or extends relief benefits under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, discussed in our March 27, 2020 and March 30, 2020 E-lerts. Specifically, the Act clarifies the tax treatment of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, permits second PPP loans to certain borrowers, expands eligibility for first PPP loans, adds to the list of forgivable expenses; expands the employee retention credit, and extends enhanced unemployment benefits.

Continue Reading Beyond Voluntary Paid Leave: What Are the Other Employment-Related Provisions of the Coronavirus Relief Act?

As distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine begins, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has modified its What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws resource to address the impact of federal non-discrimination laws on an employer’s vaccine requirements. Of particular interest, the EEOC makes the following points with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act:

Notably, the EEOC emphasizes that federal antidiscrimination laws do not interfere with or prevent employers from following guidelines and suggestions from the CDC or other governmental public health authoritiesThe EEOC also refers employers to the FDA’s website for more information on the Emergency Use Authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, which differs from the normal approval process.


Continue Reading EEOC Provides COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance

With apologies to William Shakespeare, these past couple of weeks have been rather confusing, with two of the major federal agencies leading the battle against COVID-19 – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – issuing somewhat, well, inconsistent guidance on the use of cloth face coverings or masks.

For many months now, the CDC has told us that cloth masks help to control the spread of COVID-19 by providing a barrier to help prevent the wearer’s respiratory droplets from reaching others – but that the masks did not protect the wearer. And because such cloth masks had no protective function, OSHA naturally declared that they were not personal protective equipment (PPE), which is significant because there may be OSHA-mandated employer obligations relating to the use of PPE in the workplace (e,g. fit testing, training, documentation, etc.).


Continue Reading Cloth Masks: PPE or Not PPE? That Is the Question

It’s that time of year when many folks look forward to seeing family members near and far. In the context of the pandemic, however, the CDC and many state and local officials are recommending that folks avoid travel and gatherings with those outside of the immediate household.  Given the workplace impact of employees’ holiday travel – with possible infections, exposures, and quarantines – employers are wondering whether they can prohibit employees from traveling during the holidays. And the answer, of course: It’s complicated.

Continue Reading It’s The Holiday Season – Can Employers Restrict Personal Travel?