Archives: COVID-19/Novel coronavirus

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In first-of-its-kind decision, federal court rules that mandatory workplace COVID-19 vaccine policies are lawful

As states and localities lift COVID-19 restrictions, the business community continues to grapple with the interplay between the COVID-19 vaccine and workplace operations. To address this, some U.S. employers have elected to adopt mandatory vaccination policies. These policies, in essence, require that, subject to exceptions for sincerely-held religious beliefs and disabilities, all employees receive the … Continue Reading

Sonoma County passes emergency paid sick leave ordinance

Background Sonoma County (the County) initially enacted Ordinance No. 6320 on August 18, 2020 to provide COVID-19 related paid sick leave to employees not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) in the unincorporated areas of the County. Ordinance No. 6320 expired on December 31, 2020, however, because its expiration date was … Continue Reading

New York updates COVID-19 guidelines for office-based workplaces

Last summer, as New York began the process of non-essential business reopenings, the State issued a series of industry-specific workplace health and safety guidelines with which all businesses were and have continued to be required to adhere.  On the heels of recent CDC guidance loosening workplace-related restrictions for vaccinated employees, New York has updated these … Continue Reading

New York State Department of Labor confirms that New York State paid sick leave applies to COVID-19 vaccine recovery time

As we previously reported, over the past year, New York State has adopted a statewide sick leave law, paid leave for COVID-19 vaccination, and paid quarantine leave.  Last week, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) issued guidance on the use of New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) as it pertains to employees receiving … Continue Reading

Is that a smile that I see? Pennsylvania businesses adjust reopening plans as the statewide mask mandate is scheduled to be lifted

On May 27, 2021, Pennsylvania Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam announced at a press conference that Pennsylvania’s statewide masking order is slated to be lifted in its entirety effective June 28, 2021. This announcement comes on the heels of the Wolf Administration’s May 4, 2021 announcement that all COVID mitigation orders in Pennsylvania would be … Continue Reading

New Jersey expands COVID changes to include employers not open to the public

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 greater … Continue Reading

NJ employers ready to ditch the masks? Not so fast.

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 … Continue Reading

Reminder to New Jersey employers: NJ WARN changes on the horizon

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 take … Continue Reading

It pays to be vaccinated in Los Angeles County with new paid leave ordinance

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently enacted an urgency ordinance that requires employers to provide supplemental paid leave of up to four hours per injection for employees working in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine. The Employee Paid Leave for Expanded Vaccine Access Ordinance (the Ordinance) is effective … Continue Reading

Cal-OSHA released proposed revisions to the COVID-19 prevention order

UPDATE on May 20, 2021: Since this article was published, Cal/OSHA has delayed the vote on the new proposed Emergency Temporary Standards. Please read details on the delayed vote on the Reed Smith EHS Law Insights Blog. As vaccination rates increase in California, the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) has released a … Continue Reading

BREAKING: New York adopts CDC’s loosened mask and social distancing guidance

As most of our readers likely know by now, on May 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, “[i]f you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.” The CDC went on the state that “[f]ully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania businesses may need to finalize reopening plans

After more than a year of navigating the myriad orders impacting Pennsylvania businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wolf administration has announced that it will lift all mitigation orders, except masking, on May 31, 2021. Although the announcement was sparse on detail, its general nature suggests that the following mitigation mandates – which … Continue Reading

Navigating post-pandemic telework requests

For more than a year, many American workers have been working from home. Now, as restrictions are lifting across the country, employers are beginning to call employees back to the office. Employers may see an uptick in requests to work remotely, particularly given the popularity of working from home. In responding to such requests, employers must be mindful … Continue Reading

California requires new COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave in 2021

On March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 (SB 95), which creates, in part, new Labor Code Section 248.2.[1] As a reminder, Governor Newsom previously signed AB 1867, which added Labor Code sections 248 and 248.1 to provide COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to food sector workers and employees who worked for employers … Continue Reading

New Jersey issues guidance confirming employers can mandate COVID-19 vaccines

New Jersey has confirmed that employers can mandate their employees be vaccinated for COVID-19. This move aligns New Jersey with federal guidance previously issued by the EEOC. Other states, such as California, have also issued similar guidance and the trend is expected to continue. Consistent with federal guidance from the EEOC, the New Jersey guidance … Continue Reading

Congress extends payroll tax credits to employers voluntarily providing FFCRA paid leave and expands leave provisions

As of January 2021, providing FFCRA paid leave is optional. Employers choosing to provide FFCRA Paid Leave to their employees on a voluntary basis can now receive a payroll tax credit to cover the wages paid through September 30, 2021 (subject to applicable caps).  Last year, in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Congress passed the … Continue Reading

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing blesses employers’ use of mandatory vaccination policies

Recently the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) released guidance stating that employers generally may require their employees to receive a Food and Drug Administration approved vaccination against COVID-19. Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an employer may implement a mandatory vaccination policy so long as the employer: Does not discriminate … Continue Reading

New York eliminates quarantine for domestic travel effective April 1

New York is doing away with its quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers. By way of background, in June 2020, New York issued a COVID-19 Travel Advisory requiring certain travelers to quarantine upon entry to New York. In November 2020, New York modified its travel advisory to permit out-of-state travelers to test out of its mandatory quarantine. In … Continue Reading

New York to provide paid leave for COVID-19 vaccination

On March 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring that all public and private employers in New York State provide their workforces with up to four hours of paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. More particularly, the law requires that Empire State employers provide their employees with “a sufficient period … Continue Reading

COVID-19 in New York one year later: An overview of employer obligations still in-effect

As we approach the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s upheaval of “business as usual,” we continue to field inquiries from Empire State employers regarding their pandemic-related workplace obligations.  Given that many of the pandemic-related regulations remain fully in effect, we have summarized in this blog post the primary employer obligations that remain in-effect in New York: … Continue Reading

Employers face challenges as states lift COVID-19 safety measures

The recent decline in COVID-19 infections has led numerous states to begin contemplating a roll‑back of mask mandates and related COVID-19 restrictions. Most recently, on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott and Governor Tate Reeves announced the imminent elimination of mask mandates in Texas and Mississippi, respectively. Both Governors also removed all capacity limits … Continue Reading

Brief refresher for California employers: 2021 updates to local COVID-19 paid sick leave requirements

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), requiring employers with 50-500 employees[1] to provide supplemental paid sick leave and paid family leave to their employees, and California’s statewide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave requirement expired on December 31, 2020.  While employers may voluntarily continue to provide FFCRA and receive tax credits through March 31, 2021, … Continue Reading

Managing the risks of incentivizing COVID-19 vaccines for employees

The release of the COVID-19 vaccine came as welcome news for employers. With it, however, employers will now confront myriad new questions about how the vaccine will affect workplace terms and conditions. The foremost question across all sectors has been simple: Can and should employers mandate that their employees get vaccinated? While issuing a mandate … Continue Reading

Virginia enacts first in nation permanent COVID-19 workplace safety standard

Virginia is the first state in the nation to enact a permanent workplace safety standard for COVID-19.  This permanent COVID-19 standard became effective Wednesday, January 27, 2021 upon publication after review and approval earlier in January by Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOLI) Safety and Health Codes Board.  While … Continue Reading
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