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Model Social Distancing Policy

As the pandemic drags on, medical offices and other essential businesses that remain open must be scrupulous to ensure employees maintain social distancing both at and away from the workplace. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt to accomplish that objective in accordance with your specific circumstances and the terms of the latest public health guidelines in effect in your state or city.

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Medical Office Worker’s Acknowledgement of Decision to Decline COVID-19 Vaccination

It behooves you to ensure that medical office staff get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, patients and others at your facility. But what if workers neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require medical office workers to be vaccinated Option 2: Encourage medical office workers to be vaccinated voluntarily If you select Option 2, require workers to sign a form acknowledging that they were offered the vaccine and voluntarily declined to accept it and list the reasons for doing so. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Mandatory COVID vaccination: new guidance & update

By Lynne Curry bio Can employers require their employees to receive COVID-vaccinations? While vaccination is one of an employer’s best tools for preventing COVID-19 outbreaks at their worksites, requiring employees to be vaccinated and disciplining them if they refuse comes with legal risks. Although the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s December 2020 guidelines stated that employers could implement and enforce mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for certain jobs and with certain exceptions1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that recipients of vaccines under an “emergency use authorization” (which includes the current COVID vaccines) must be informed that they have the option to accept or refuse the vaccination. For more detail on this federal agency contradiction, see https://workplacecoachblog.com/2021/01/covid-vaccination-update-in-light-of-the-vaccines-emergency-use-authorization-status/ “The current problem,” says Perkins Coie Senior Counsel Michael O’Brien, “is that many… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Disciplining employees for not following COVID-19 restrictions when they are off-duty

Picture this: COVID-19 cases are surging. Your state or city is in full lockdown mode. That means, among other things, that outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people aren’t allowed. So, it disturbs you to turn on the Sunday news and see hundreds of people crowding together to demonstrate right in the middle of downtown. And then it gets personal. You recognize one of those demonstrators. She’s one of your medical office’s employees! What the heck is she doing there?! And, gulp, you also notice that she’s not wearing a mask! Now what? Can you discipline the employee for participating in the illegal demonstration and not wearing a mask? Off-duty conduct, employee discipline and COVID-19 The statement that what employees do when they’re away from work is none of your… . . . read more.

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Tool: Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

It’s important to ensure that medical office workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, patients and others at your facility. But what if workers neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require medical office workers to be vaccinated option 2: Encourage medical office workers to be vaccinated voluntarily Here’s a Model Policy you can use to implement Option 1.

COMPLIANCE

Can you require medical office workers to get the COVID-19 vaccination?

Although it’s clearly a positive development for the world at large, the almost miraculous emergence of a vaccine for COVID-19 in less than a year poses legal challenges for employers in general and medical office staff and other healthcare providers in particular. The Question: Can employers require their workers to get the vaccine? Bottom Line on Top: The answer is probably but not 100 percent certainly YES. And even if a mandatory vaccine policy is justifiable, it’s also subject to strict restrictions. Legal justification for mandatory vaccination policies Even though the COVID-19 situation is new and unprecedented, we can still discern the boundaries with regard to employers’ rights to demand that workers get vaccinated. Specifically, we know that OSHA, courts and arbitrators have historically upheld mandatory flu vaccination policies (as… . . . read more.

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Model visitors’ waiver of COVID-19 infection liability form

As long as COVID-19 remains a threat, you run the risk of being sued by patients, vendors, guests and other visitors (“visitors”) who claim they contracted the virus at your office as a result of your inadequate safety measures. One way to limit liability is having visitors sign a form agreeing to waive their rights to sue you for COVID-19 infections before entering the office. Although there’s no guarantee that a court would enforce such a waiver, the Model Form below uses fairly conservative language that has been found to be enforceable in other situations. Caveat: The inclusion of the phrase purporting to insulate you against your own negligence in Sections 3 and 4 is fairly risky and you may want to talk to counsel about whether to use it… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

New rules for wellness programs & marijuana legal in more places

By Mike O’Brien bio Employment law continues to change rapidly with a change in federal government administration and the continuing pandemic. As manager of a medical office, it’s just one more thing to keep up with. Here are a few recent developments.  New rules coming for employer wellness programs On Jan. 7, 2021, the EEOC issued proposed rules related to what incentives employers can offer as part of wellness programs. The new rules come in response to a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that vacated a portion of the EEOC’s previous ADA and GINA regulations. HIPAA allows employers to offer incentives up to 30 percent of the total cost of health insurance to encourage participation in certain types of wellness programs. However, the ADA… . . . read more.

COVID-19

What do we do about employees who refuse vaccinations?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: What do we do if our employees refuse to get vaccinated? Several dozen employees have stated they don’t want the vaccine, as doctors don’t know enough about the vaccine’s long-term side effects. They point out that the Food and Drug Administration sanctioned the vaccines through an emergency use authorization procedure and rushed the vaccines through. We run a mid-sized company.  Our management team read your Dec. 21 post about mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies. https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/12/mandatory-covid-vaccinations-the-rules/ Now that vaccinations are starting, we’re considering a mandatory policy for safety reasons. How are other employers handling this? Answer: As a management team, you’re not alone in your concerns. Surveys by both the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Pew reveal that 21% to 24% of U.S. adults “will not get… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Has OSHA done enough to enforce COVID-19 safety rules for medical offices?

Even after the election and swearing in of the new President, federal government response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains a politically charged issue. One area of contention involves whether OSHA has done enough to protect healthcare workers and other workers exposed to the virus. On Jan. 8, the agency issued a statistical report documenting its COVID-19 enforcement efforts starting with the beginning of the pandemic and running through Dec. 31, 2020. Employer liability for COVID-19 violations under OSHA laws Nobody disputes that under OSHA, medical offices and other employers have a duty to protect workers from risk of COVID-19 infection. What may be less clear, is the source of that duty. Neither the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act) nor the regulations say anything about COVID-19 or, with a few… . . . read more.


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