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The Modern Workplace

Posts in COVID-19.

Yesterday, on July 27, 2021, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new COVID-19 guidance, including recommending face masks even for vaccinated people when they are in indoor public settings in geographic areas with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates, as mapped from time to time by the CDC. The CDC:

  • Updated guidance for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the degree to which the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant is currently circulating in the United States and its high contagion factor.
  • Recommended that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public ...
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On June 10, 2021, OSHA released a long-awaited new Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”), which establishes new mandatory workplace safety requirements for employers providing healthcare services or healthcare support services. The ETS aims to protect employees from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace by requiring the following:

  • a COVID-19 plan based on an assessment of COVID-19 hazards;
  • patient screening;
  • transmission-based precautions;
  • continued personal protective equipment (PPE) usage;
  • social distancing while indoors;
  • proper cleaning and disinfecting ...
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The gig economy is an industry that is generally characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts, freelance work, and indefinite flexible working arrangements. It also usually comes with getting work through some type of online or app-based digital platform. The unifying factor in all of these companies is that they are managing independent contractors and freelancers who have signed up to perform task services for the ultimate end user. From a legal perspective, this is very different from the traditional employee model. In a recent podcast, we explored the impacts of the ...

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued an important update to its COVID-19 guidance. Most notably, the update provides long-awaited guidance on mandatory vaccination policies and vaccination incentives—both of which we discussed in earlier blog posts and client alerts

Mandatory Vaccinations

The EEOC’s updated guidance makes clear that, under employment discrimination laws, an employer can require its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before physically entering the workplace, subject to the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ...

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued new guidance regarding what activities fully vaccinated people may safely engage in. The CDC stated that fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations. In response to the CDC’s new guidance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) added a statement to its January 2021 guidance stating that OSHA is reviewing the recent CDC guidance and will ...

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Posted in COVID-19, Leave
Here we go again… California has passed new legislation (Senate Bill 95) requiring a larger group of employers to provide paid leave for many more COVID-19-related reasons than previously allowed.
Q: Who must provide the SB 95 leave?

A: California employers (including public entities) with more than 25 employees nationally.

Q. Who is eligible for the SB 95 leave?

A. “Covered employees” is defined as California-based employees who are unable to work or telework for one of the qualifying reasons.[1]
Q. What reasons qualify for the SB 95 leave?
A. There are more qualifying reasons ...
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Posted in COVID-19

On Thursday, March 11, 2021, President Biden signed an historic $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package known as the American Rescue Plan Act. You may be (rightfully) thinking, “wow, that’s a lot of money, what’s in it for me?!” In fact, many Americans will receive direct stimulus checks aimed at helping to offset widespread economic strain caused by the pandemic. Whether you use the money to pay overdue bills or towards a new car is up to you, and either way the economy will theoretically be improved. In addition to the personal funds the federal government is sending to millions ...

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On Wednesday, February 10, the CDC announced that individuals who are fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 do not necessarily have to quarantine following exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
In addition, businesses have asked the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to clarify the types of incentives employers can legally provide employees to encourage them to get COVID-19 vaccinations. Incentives offered by some employers might, for example, include: 
  • Time off from work to get vaccinated, often with pay
  • Incentive bonus (for example, $100)
  • Gift cards
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Last week, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidance to help employers and employees identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19 in the workplace and to assist in determining appropriate control measures. The guidance is advisory in nature and does not impose new legal requirements on employers, but provides additional information that may be helpful to employers in their efforts to provide a safe and healthful workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
The guidance recommends implementing a workplace COVID-19 ...
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With two COVID-19 vaccines already authorized for emergency use in the United States and more likely forthcoming soon, employers are asking whether they can and should require employees to get vaccinated. This alert identifies some of the major issues that employers are likely to face when rolling out policies related to vaccinations. 
Can Employers Require Employees to Get Vaccinated?

Recently released guidance from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) strongly suggests that employers can require employees to get vaccinated. Although the guidance does ...
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With COVID-19 cases surging, employers should take the time to review the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administrations recent guidance document, which was generated based on a review of data from citations issued, many of which were the result of complaints, referrals and fatalities in industries such as hospitals and healthcare, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and meat/poultry processing plants. OSHA News Release (11/7/2020).

The guidance document identifies the standards that are most frequently cited in coronavirus-related OSHA inspections and ...
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Prior to COVID-19, virtually all union representation elections were conducted through in-person voting, often at the workplace. In mid-April, however, the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) empowered its Regional Directors to exercise their discretion to order mail ballot elections when circumstances warrant. Since then, virtually all such elections have been conducted by mail because of the pandemic. Many of these decisions were challenged, generally by employers arguing that in-person voting can be conducted safely, but those objections have not been ...
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With the holidays fast approaching and employers beginning to think about their employee holiday gatherings, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued updated holiday guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the guidance is not targeted specifically to the workplace, it provides employers insight into the various factors they should consider when planning and hosting in-person company-sponsored events, which include the following:
  • Check the COVID-19 infection rates in your area, which can be accomplished by consulting the applicable state and local health ...
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The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published additional frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) regarding the need to report employees in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related cases of the coronavirus. These FAQs reverse OSHAs previously issued guidance that, for cases of COVID-19, the work-related incident triggering reporting requirements was the employees positive diagnosis. Now, the triggering event is the employees exposure to the coronavirus at work.
 
Employers are required under ...
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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its guidance What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.

Many of the updates to the guidance document are consistent with the EEOCs March webinar on COVID-19, but the updates also provide additional clarifying information regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and COVID-19 screening. The ADA continues to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic and requires that any employment disability-related inquiries or medical exams, including COVID-19 ...
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Posted in COVID-19
Across the country, state and local mask orders are becoming more common. For those employers located in Minnesota, for example, a new mask order went into effect on July 25, 2020, pursuant to Minnesota Governor Tim Walzs Executive Order on masks. Under the Order, Minnesotans over the age of five must wear a face covering in indoor businesses and indoor public settings, unless alone. The Executive Order contains specific requirements for businesses, including provisions generally requiring workers to wear a face covering at all times when working indoors, outdoors in situations ...
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Posted in COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the landscape for all employers. Most have had to lay off or furlough a significant number of employees and institute other cost-cutting measures, such as salary decreases, discontinuation of 401(k) matching programs, and hours reductions. For those still operating, they face the challenge of keeping their employees safe while still meeting their customers demands, priorities that are not always aligned. 

In this environment, labor unions have been fighting to insert themselves into these critical management decisions in the name ...

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Employers have been facing an incredible range of complex and varied issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not least among these have been how best to respond lawfully to workers for whom work is available but who are reluctant to work, refuse to be in the workplace, or who may be unavailable because they are sick or have been exposed to the virus. Now, as the nation begins to contemplate a reopening process that will significantly increase the number of open workplaces, these questions will arise with increasing frequency. Making sound decisions about how to respond to employees with ...
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In the continued wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous states have recently taken steps, through either new legislation or executive orders issued by governors, to expand both workers compensation and unemployment benefits in circumstances tied to COVID-19. We highlight Minnesota developments as examples.

Workers Compensation Benefits for Essential Workers:  

Newly enacted legislation in Minnesota creates a presumption of workers compensation coverage for various categories of workers who contract COVID-19. Categories of covered workers include first responders ...
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We know that we are all feeling a bit overwhelmed by the fast-pace of information being circulated about employment related COVID-19 issues and laws. In an effort to help you organize and retain COVID-19 information in a concise way, you will find links below to each of the Employment Alerts, Blog Posts, and Webinars by Lathrop GPM on COVID-19 employment issues. We will continue to keep you up to date with Alerts and blog posts as the various federal and state agencies issues new laws, regulations, and answers to the questions posed by employers. Please check here on the Modern Workplace ...
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Public health officials and business leaders are grappling with how to respond to the increasing number of presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the United States. Seattle has closed public schools for two weeks in light of coronavirus and banned large gatherings, including sporting events. This week, many higher education institutions, including the University of Minnesota, Duke University, Georgetown, and the University of Notre Dame, canceled in-person classes and announced that they are temporarily switching to an online learning environment. Nationally ...

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