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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Court gives guidance about return to onsite work and ADA

By Mike O’Brien In ADA Case, Tenth Circuit says onsite work may be essential One of the most frequent questions that the writers of these updates receive is whether employers who moved to a remote workplace in response to the COVID pandemic may now recall employees to onsite work. Generally, we’ve advised employers that they are free to require onsite work, although they may need to make exceptions for employees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or provide leave to eligible employees under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). On April 8, 2021, the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appellate court for the mountain west region), issued an important ADA decision about onsite work requirements in the case of Unrein v. PHC-Fort Morgan,… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

How to create an enhanced cleaning and disinfection policy for your medical office

In the age of COVID-19, complying with the rigorous hygiene requirements of OSHA and other standards may not be enough. That’s because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health guidelines mandate that work facilities still in operation undertake special enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures. This is particularly the case for healthcare sites. Here are the rules and how to comply. There’s also a Model Policy on this website that you can adapt for use at your own facility. What’s at Stake SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus, spreads by human-to-human contact and can live on a surface or object for up to seven days. The virus can be killed but it takes the right products and procedures. That’s why public health agencies are requiring employers… . . . read more.

HUMAN RESOURCES

How you can help employees suffering burnout

By Indira Totaram bio It’s the feeling of being drained but unable to recharge, the frustration of a tiring routine, the everyday distress in response to the current state of the world—employee burnout is now more widespread than ever. As the pandemic endures and its effects trickle down, many are struggling to keep up with workplace demands, longer hours, and remote work conditions. Burnout refers to the experience of chronic workplace stress, characterized by exhaustion, fatigue, cynicism, and feelings of reduced professional ability. Have we reached our physical, mental, and emotional limits? If so, how can we recover? Read on to learn more about reaching peak burnout: The mental health crisis Studies show that mental health in the United States is deteriorating among all age groups. Researchers and health officials are… . . . read more.

BILLING & CODING

Updated info for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

On Dec. 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID‑19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 for individuals 16 years of age and older. Review Pfizer’s Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) regarding the limitations of authorized use. During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), Medicare will cover and pay for the administration of the vaccine (when furnished consistent with the EUA). Review the CMS updated payment and HCPCS Level I CPT code structure for specific COVID-19 vaccine information. Only bill for the vaccine administration codes when you submit claims to Medicare; don’t include the vaccine product codes when vaccines are free. Related links: CMS COVID-19 Provider Toolkit CMS COVID-19 FAQs CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for medical centers, clinics, and clinicians FDA COVID-19 Vaccines webpage

Tool

Model waiver of COVID-19 infection liability sign to post at your medical office

As long as COVID-19 remains a threat, you run the risk of being sued by clients, vendors, guests and other visitors (“visitors”) who claim they contracted the virus at your office facility as a result of your inadequate safety measures. One way to limit liability is by conspicuously posting a sign at the entry of your facility indicating visitors’ agreement to waive their rights to sue you for COVID-19 infections by entering the office. Although there’s no guarantee that a court would enforce such a waiver, the Model Sign 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… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

EEOC issues COVID-19 vaccine guidance

By Mike O’Brien bio On Dec. 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 guidance to include a section devoted to vaccinations. The EEOC’s guidance answers these and other COVID-19 vaccine questions: “Is asking or requiring an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination a disability-related inquiry?” “If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a disability?” “If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief?” “What happens if an employer cannot… . . . read more.

COMPLIANCE

Using waivers to avoid getting sued for COVID-19 infections

PLEASE READ NOTICE TO ALL ENTRANTS AND USERS OF THESE FACILITIES EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY – ASSUMPTION OF RISK THESE CONDITIONS WILL AFFECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO SUE OR CLAIM COMPENSATION FOR AN INJURY OR ILLNESS In these times of pandemic, signs and forms like this purporting to shield the owner of a facility against liability have become a fixture in workplaces and other facilities. You might even be using them at your own office. The idea is to notify patients, vendors and other visitors (which, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to collectively as “visitors”) that they’re entering the facility at their own risk and in so doing, waiving their rights to sue the owner for any illness or injury they suffer while on the premises. Of course,… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

“COVID captains” keep the focus on safe work practices

By Dan Scungio The year 2020 has roared to a close, and COVID-19 is unfortunately still around. We have made changes to our lives at home, in public, and at work. Healthcare workers, in particular, made several changes early on with PPE use and work practices that are still in effect today. A great deal of work had to be done early on this year to provide information to staff in healthcare facilities regarding this updated safety information. At this point, the initial work that needed to be done by safety professionals has been completed. Employees have been educated regarding the continued use of Standard Precautions and how they create protection from pathogens every day. However, as can happen with safety programs, staff become tired of following the regulations, they… . . . read more.

Employment Law Update

OSHA says cloth face coverings are not “PPE”

By Mike O’Brien bio In an update to its FAQ, OSHA has stated that cloth face coverings do not constitute personal protective equipment (PPE). According to OSHA, there isn’t enough information currently available to determine if a particular cloth face covering provides sufficient protection from the coronavirus hazard to be PPE under OSHA’s standard. OSHA’s determination is consistent with statements made by the CDC. This determination means that OSHA’s PPE standards do not require employers to provide cloth face coverings to employees. However, OSHA strongly encourages workers to wear face coverings when in close contact with others to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, if it is appropriate for the work environment. In addition, OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work and even says… . . . read more.

COVID-19

Our employees may stage a Thanksgiving rebellion

By Lynne Curry bio Question: I overheard a breakroom conversation last week and learned several employees were planning to get together with extended families for Thanksgiving. One employee was letting another know that if she didn’t “have any place to go,” she could join their family gathering. I honestly couldn’t believe this given the uptick in COVID-19 in our community, so I decided to call an all-hands meeting. I held the meeting in the downstairs lobby so we could physically distance. I started with the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s guidance that we celebrate virtually or within our household. I added that the CDC specifically says those who don’t currently live in our household, even if family members, need to be viewed as members of different households. I reminded everyone… . . . read more.


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