The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to issue a steady stream of new guidance and information on COVID-19, some of which has specific relevance to the workplace. During the first part of February 2021, such guidance includes new masking recommendations, when workers who are severely immunocompromised can return to work after a COVID-19 diagnosis, and customizable vaccine communications to essential workers (that may eventually be useful for all workers).

Continue Reading The Latest COVID-19 Workplace Guidance from the CDC: More on Masks, Returning to Work After Infection, and Vaccine Communications to Employees

As promised by the new Biden Administration, on January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provided stronger guidance for employers and employees on COVID-19 in the workplace. The guidance provides information to workers about protecting themselves from COVID-19 in the workplace, elements of effective prevention programs, and other recommendations on how to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Continue Reading OSHA Provides Stronger Workplace Guidance on COVID-19

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 the COVID-19 vaccine finally becoming a reality, healthcare employers, who were first to receive the vaccine for distribution to their workforce, are addressing questions of how to implement vaccination programs. Other employers are thinking about these issues as well, in preparation for the time when vaccines are more widely available. Below, we have addressed many common, and some not so common, questions about vaccines in the workplace.

Continue Reading Vaccines in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers

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

On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its recommended quarantine period for those individuals who were in close contact with a person with COVID-19. The revised guidance, while still ideally recommending a 14-day quarantine period, now permits exposed individuals to end quarantine after 7 days with a negative test (collected within 48 hours of the final day of quarantine), or 10 days without a test. This development will allow employers to bring exposed employees back into the workplace much faster than before.

Continue Reading The CDC Decreased The COVID-19 Quarantine Period: What This Means for Employers

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?

Following last month’s federal court ruling that the U.S. Department of Labor had exceeded its authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in formulating certain regulatory provisions, the DOL has now issued a revised Final Rule, which becomes effective on September 16, 2020. These revisions do the following: (1) reaffirm the work-availability requirement, (2) reaffirm employer approval of intermittent leave, (3) modify the timing requirement for documentation, and (4) scale back the broad exemption for health care providers. Employers nationwide will need to make adjustments to their FFCRA procedures in accordance with the revised Final Rule.

Continue Reading DOL Revises FFCRA Final Rule: What This Means for Covered Employers

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its What You Should Know About Covid-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and Other EEO Laws resource to add Q&As about employers’ authority to require testing or ask questions about COVID-19 symptoms, confidentiality of COVID-19 diagnoses, and reasonable accommodations, as well as considerations for furloughs/layoffs, treatment of older workers. Most of this guidance was provided in the EEOC’s March 27 webinar and other resources.

Continue Reading EEOC Expands COVID-19 Guidance on Testing, Medical Inquiries, Confidentiality, Accommodations, and More