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OSHA issued its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) in early November. A series of challenges quickly ensued, resulting in a stay of the ETS and a consolidation of the cases before the Sixth Circuit. On December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit lifted the stay. OSHA has indicated that it will delay enforcement of the ETS deadlines

Next up in the series, Reed Smith lawyers continue the discussion regarding the OSHA ETS that requires companies in the U.S. with 100 or more employees to implement either a mandatory vaccination policy or a policy that allows employees to choose between vaccination or COVID-19 testing. Specifically, the chat focuses on the current status of

Update – On November 6, 2021 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay of the ETS.

On November 4, 2021, OSHA issued an unpublished version of its long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) as to COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements covering most private employers with 100 or more employees. The ETS is scheduled to be published and take effect on November 5, 2021. As summarized below, the ETS requires covered employers to establish either (1) a mandatory vaccination policy requiring that all covered employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or (2) a vaccination policy that requires that employees choose between being fully vaccinated or submitting to regular and recurring COVID-19 testing. It should be noted that these are “minimum” requirements, such that employers are not prohibited from establishing more stringent policies, and do not supplant the requirements of a collective bargaining agreement.

Effective date

Employers will have 30 days, or until December 5, 2021, to comply with all non-testing requirements of the ETS, and 60 days, or until January 4, 2022, to comply with testing requirements for employees who have not received all doses required for primary vaccination. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), an ETS serves as a proposal for a permanent standard, and the OSH Act calls for the permanent standard to be finalized within six months after publication of the ETS (29 U.S.C. 655(c)(3)).

Covered employers

For purposes of the ETS, a covered employer is one with 100 or more employees “at any time” during the effective period of the ETS. This means that employers who meet this minimum threshold as of the effective date of the ETS are covered throughout the effective time of the ETS, even if the employer later falls under the minimum employee threshold. For any employer that falls short of 100 employees as of the effective date but reaches the threshold at any point that the ETS is in effect, the employer will become subject to the ETS requirements as of the date they meet the threshold and remain covered for the remaining duration of the ETS, even if the employer later reduces staff such that it falls under the threshold. To calculate the number of employees, all part-time and full-time employees must be accounted for, regardless of where they work (including those that work at home). However, independent contractors are not included in the calculation. Also, employees supplied to a customer site by staffing companies only count toward the staffing company’s employee total; they do not count toward the customer company’s total. Similarly, as to franchisee-franchisor relationships, their respective employees count only toward their own calculation, not the other party’s employee count (i.e., a franchisee’s employees count only toward the franchisee’s calculation, and not the franchisor’s count). The ETS excludes: (1) Employers that are covered under the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors; and (2) certain settings where any employee provides healthcare services or healthcare support services.

Excluded employees

The ETS specifies that the requirements apply only to employees who visit an employer’s indoor locations where other people are present. Employees who work exclusively at home, outdoors, or at a site where the employee is the only person present are not required to comply with the employer’s requirements. However, should such an employee later be required to, or seek to, visit one of the employer’s indoor facilities, the employee must satisfy the vaccination or testing requirements.

Reasonable accommodations/Exceptions to policy

The ETS requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations and exceptions for employees (i) for whom the vaccine is medically contraindicated; (ii) for whom medical necessity requires a delay in vaccination; or (iii) who are entitled to a reasonable accommodation due to a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances that conflict with the vaccination requirement.

As to the vaccination requirements, the employer is required to provide an employee with time to obtain and recover from a vaccination. Specifically, the employer must provide up to four hours of paid time, inclusive of travel time, at the employee’s regular pay rate, to obtain a vaccine. The employer must also provide reasonable paid time off to recover from any side effects of each dose of a vaccine.
Continue Reading OSHA issues COVID-19 ETS for large private employers

On October 5, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (A681) amending the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to expand protections for the state’s older workers. While the NJLAD already prohibited age discrimination, it contained an exception permitting employers to decide not to hire or promote workers over 70 based on their age. The new

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, President Biden issued a memorandum, “Path Out of the Pandemic” (the Memo), announcing a six-pronged national strategy to combat COVID-19. Among other things, President Biden has ordered the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop and issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to require

In early 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a series of bills aimed at identifying and penalizing entities for misclassification of employees as independent contractors. Yesterday, Governor Murphy signed four additional laws into effect to build upon and expand these efforts: A5890, A5892, A5891, and A1171.

These laws build upon

On June 4, 2021, the New Jersey legislature passed legislation (A5820/S3866) enabling the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in place since March 9, 2020. Under the legislation, the majority of New Jersey’s COVID-19 related Executive Orders will lapse on July 4, 2021. The legislation specifically keeps fourteen Executive Orders in place until January 1, 2022 (which may be subject to further extension):

  • Executive Order 106 (Eviction Moratorium)
  • Executive Order 111 (Healthcare reporting)
  • Executive Order 112 (COVID-19 Health Care Responders)
  • Executive Order 123 (Insurance Premium Grace Periods)
  • Executive Order 127 (Rulemaking Deadlines)
  • Executive Order 150 (Outdoor Dining Protocols and Process to Expand Premises for Liquor License Holders)
  • Executive Order 159 (Extension of Certain Statutory Deadlines)
  • Executive Order 170  (Extension of Certain Statutory Deadlines)
  • Executive Order 178  (Extension of Certain Statutory Deadlines)
  • Executive Order 207 (Enrollment in NJ Immunization Information System)
  • Executive Order 229 (Utility Shut-off Moratorium)
  • Executive Order 233 (Stimulus Payments Exempt from garnishment)
  • Executive Order 237 (Summer Youth Overnight and Day Camps)
  • Executive Order 242 (Lifting of Restrictions)


Continue Reading Many NJ COVID-related Executive Orders set to expire July 4

As previously discussed, on May 24, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the lifting of COVID-19 mask requirements for certain employers, while continuing to require masks for others. In a point of frustration for many New Jersey employers, the requirements seemed to require masking and social distancing in an inconsistent manner, and imposed

UPDATE: On May 26, 2021, Governor Murphy announced that he will be signing another Executive Order, effective Friday, June 4, 2021, that will: (1) Allow employers to implement policies for vaccinated employees to forego masking & social distancing; and (2) Rescind the requirement for mandatory remote work arrangements.  We will provide further guidance on these

Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, in January 2020, Governor Murphy signed into law sweeping changes to New Jersey’s mini-WARN act. The first-of-its-kind law in the nation required mandatory severance payments for employees who lost their jobs in a mass layoff. We discussed details of the changes here. The law was scheduled to