Even though the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the workplace has dominated the headlines recently, employers should be careful not to delay investigating non-pandemic-related complaints—particularly those of harassment. Failing to promptly investigate and correct harassing behavior can be costly. Based on a recent federal appellate court ruling, a month between complaint and action may not be prompt enough.
Private employers with 100 or more employees will be required to ensure their employees are either “fully vaccinated” or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test at least once a week, under President Biden’s new six-prong COVID-19 Action Plan (the “Plan”) announced September 9, 2021. The Plan also includes vaccination requirements for employees of healthcare facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements, federal employees and contractors, and certain schools and programs.
Employers and plans are reminded that they must provide a COBRA subsidy expiration notice no later than September 15, 2021, pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). ARPA had included some new COBRA obligations for both employers and participants. In particular, as noted in our previous posts, ARPA established a 100 percent COBRA premium subsidy that applied for a coverage period running from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. That subsidy period is now coming to a close.
Enforcement begins soon of New York City’s new executive order requiring certain indoor establishments to verify that staff and patrons have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before entering the establishment. The executive order took effect on August 17 and inspectors will begin enforcing its requirements until September 13. This mandate is the first of its kind in the country.
If you still have unvaccinated workers in January, might you provide a financial incentive for employees to be vaccinated, by charging them higher healthcare insurance premiums? That is the question facing exhausted but dedicated corporate Human Resources leaders as they approach annual open enrollment season, in which employees are asked to lock in their 2022 benefit plan year’s elections. As the price for 2022 health plan and other coverages come into sharper focus around this time of year, final decisions on what portion of plan costs should be borne by the company and what portion should be passed along to employees loom on the horizon.
Colorado employers should carefully review their vacation and paid time off policies following a recent decision from the Colorado Supreme Court. On June 14, 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court held in Nieto v. Clark’s Market that although the Colorado Wage Claim Act (CWCA) does not require employers to provide employees with vacation pay, if the employer does elect to provide vacation pay, all accrued but unused vacation pay must be paid to employees upon termination of employment. This ruling is a reversal from precedent set by the Colorado Court of Appeals.
When an employee gets injured on the job, employers know to provide information about workers compensation coverage. But employers would be wise to remember to also consider whether the injury constitutes a “serious health condition,” triggering additional obligations under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or similar state leave statutes.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recommended employers either require vaccination or regular COVID testing, in addition to mask wearing and physical distancing in updated guidance issued on August 13, 2021. With the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission affirming that employers can mandate vaccines subject to certain exceptions, and the Department of Justice chiming in that such mandates are not prohibited simply because a vaccine only has Emergency Use Authorization, employers have additional support for vaccine mandates. This latest guidance for non-healthcare employers aligns with the information published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 27.
All unionized and nonunionized private sector employers should prepare now for the anticipated legal changes contemplated in the National Labor Relations Board’s latest general counsel memorandum, GC 21-04. The Memorandum, released August 12, 2021, provides a detailed roadmap of the legal precedents and case-handling processes that new NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo will advocate changing during her four-year term.
Employers that bar staff from communicating with the media should take another look at those prohibitions, following a recent federal appellate decision finding such a policy unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). An employee’s critical letter to the editor might be embarrassing, but taking action against the author for writing it may be unlawful. Continue Reading