In early December 2021, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all private sector employers in New York City would need to adopt a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for their workers. This meant that all private sector employees in New York City needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to perform in-person services within the
COVID-19 / Novel coronavirus
UK employers, are you ready for October? Change in Right to Work Check Requirements
From 1 October 2022, the requirement for employers to physically check their new hires’ right to work (RTW) documents will return unless they opt to use one of the new government ‘Identification Document Validation Providers’ (IDSP) to validate RTW evidence online.
Prior to the pandemic, all RTW checks had to be carried out face-to-face.
As a temporary measure brought in during the pandemic, the Home Office allowed employers to carry out RTW checks over video call and to accept scanned documentation (as opposed to having face-to-face checks and then copying and retaining original documents, as was the pre-pandemic requirement). This temporary measure will end on 30 September 2022.
Reminder of requirements
All UK employers must carry out certain RTW checks for new recruits (regardless of nationality) and also use reasonable steps to ensure their current employees have and maintain a RTW in the UK. While there is no standalone liability for employers who fail to correctly carry out RTW checks, failing to do so exposes employers to fines of up to £20,000 per breach in the event that they employ someone illegally (plus criminal liability, disqualification of directors, reputational damage, among other risks). Compliant RTW checks secure a statutory excuse to civil liability for the hiring of illegal workers.
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Covid-19 related refusal to attend the workplace
Covid-19 related reluctance or refusal to attend the workplace is nothing new, but as we enter a new phase of the pandemic, ‘Living with Covid’, developing case law will be of interest to employers who require or expect workers to attend the workplace on a full or hybrid basis. This blog considers the current guidance on workplace attendance, the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal’s (EAT) decision in Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting (a case looking at whether an employee had protection against unfair dismissal when refusing to attend work due to Covid related concerns), and some practical considerations for employers.
The UK government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan came to full fruition in England on 1 April 2022, with remaining Covid-specific guidance now largely obsolete, and replaced with general public health guidance. This essentially treats Covid like other respiratory illnesses for individuals and business to manage, leaving employers with discretion on how to manage ongoing Covid risks in the workplace, and individuals encouraged to exercise personal responsibility.
Employers are no longer required to consider Covid specifically in their risk assessments, nor have specific Covid mitigation measures in place, although they must continue to comply with their general health and safety obligations. Similarly, ‘work from home if you can’ guidance has been removed, although individuals with symptoms of a respiratory infection (including Covid), and who have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to work, or anyone with a positive Covid test, are advised to try and stay at home, working from home if possible, and to avoid others. Individuals who cannot work from home are advised to discuss options with their employer. …
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Virginia officially revoked COVID-19 workplace safety standard
On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, official revocation of Virginia’s COVID-19 permanent workplace safety standard became effective upon publication in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. That action followed a vote by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOLI’s) Safety and Health Codes Board (Board) earlier this week.
The Board initiated steps in February to end the standard…
Supreme Court blocks federal vaxx-or-test rule for large employers
The highest court in the land has, at long last, weighed in on the permissibility of the federal government’s November 2021 vaccine-or-test rule for large employers. Specifically, on January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which had required that private employers with 100 or more U.S. employees adopt either (1) a mandatory vaccination policy or (2) a policy that allows employees to choose between vaccination and submission of weekly COVID tests (as we previously discussed here).
As a result, employers previously covered by the ETS will not have to comply – at least for now – with its requirements. Below we will discuss the Court’s ruling and, equally if not more importantly, what this means for U.S. employers.…
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BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court reinstates OSHA vaccine ETS
On December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the stay previously placed on OSHA’s so-called “vaccinate or test” Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Consequently, covered employers with 100 or more employees will now be required to comply with the ETS under the newly announced deadlines of January 10, 2022 for all non-testing requirements…
OSHA ETS: Sixth Circuit denies initial hearing en banc
As noted in our prior post regarding the Sixth Circuit handling the challenges to the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (the ETS), several of the parties targeting the OSHA ETS filed or joined various petitions requesting an initial hearing en banc. On December 15, 2021, the Sixth Circuit denied the various petitions for initial hearing en banc because there was not majority support of the active judges. It appears that it was a very close call – of the 16 active judges, eight were for en banc and eight were against it. As a result, the case will proceed before the typical three-judge panel. The three judges have been assigned; however, we do not know who they are at this point.
Judge Moore issued a concurring opinion recognizing the inefficiencies that go along with an en banc hearing. The concurrence noted that the case “require[s] focused consideration by a devoted panel,” and that an en banc hearing “would have strained the resources of the sixteen active judges.”
There are two dissenting opinions. Chief Judge Sutton’s dissent recognizes that, with respect to the initial hearing en banc, “[t]his is an extraordinary case, suitable for an extraordinary procedure.” But he also notes that the Sixth Circuit “likely will not be the final decisionmakers in this case, given the prospect of review by the U.S. Supreme Court.” …
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NYC guidance addresses intersection of vaccine policies and workplace laws
In conjunction with New York City’s recent employer vaccine mandate, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) issued enforcement guidance on the equitable implementation of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for employees, independent contractors, and interns.
Non-discriminatory application of vaccine policies
In its guidance, the NYCCHR underscored that employers must ensure their policies and practices treat all employees evenly, regardless of protected class status, when implementing vaccine requirements. Specifically, the guidance advises that employers should not (i) scrutinize proof of vaccination more closely when it is provided by employees of a particular race, national origin, or religion based on the perception that people in those groups are less likely to be vaccinated; (ii) require proof of vaccination only for older employees or employees with disabilities based on the belief that COVID-19 is more dangerous for them; or (iii) refuse to accept certain types of valid proof of vaccination, such as official immunization records from other countries or photographs of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination cards.
The guidance reiterates that employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees because they requested an accommodation, opposed discrimination, or filed or assisted with a claim under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).…
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What does the booster jab mean for vaccine policies in the UK?
Whether employers can require evidence of vaccination as a condition of employment or attendance in the workplace has been a hot topic in recent months, with many employers (having weighed up various legal obligations and risks) introducing a policy featuring vaccination status to some extent. Yet vaccination status is not stable and the dilemma now facing these employers in the UK is whether to revisit their policy requirements due to the rollout of booster jabs. Put simply, should employers with a vaccine policy now require vaccinated individuals to have the booster?
Full vaccination is currently seen as having completed the full course of an approved vaccine (i.e., being ‘double jabbed’, unless in receipt of an approved one-dose vaccine). At the moment there is no mention of the booster on the NHS Covid pass, receipt of the booster is not a pre-requisite for activities such as travel or attendance at venues, nor is it a requirement of deployment for care home staff (where there is a legal requirement for full vaccination, unless exempt, in England). On this basis, employers may be minded to maintain the same stance and ignore the boosters for any workplace policies too.
It will certainly be appealing to employers to maintain the status quo from a practical perspective. The administration of assessing whether staff eligible for a booster have had it is likely to be a particular challenge, both keeping track of who is eligible when (as although all UK adults have been offered the full course of an approved vaccine, the booster is only currently available to vulnerable groups and to those aged over 40, six months after their final jab), and what ‘evidence’ an individual has of a booster (as until this appears on the NHS Covid pass the individual will have little by way of proof that they have received it). Further, employers are likely to want to avoid having to update and communicate a change in policy so soon after introducing it, and dealing with any engagement issues or disputes arising from a change in approach.
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New York confirms that paid leave for COVID-19 vaccination may be used for booster shots
As we previously reported, earlier this year New York lawmakers passed a law requiring that all Empire State employers provide their employees with up to four hours of paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Shortly thereafter, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) published guidance on the measure, clarifying that: (i)…