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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Supreme court blocks OSHA vaccine mandate, dissolves stay on CMS mandate for healthcare industry

By Mike O’Brien In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion blocking OSHA’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees. The majority ruled on Jan. 13 that OSHA had exceeded its authority when it issued the vaccine mandate, concluding that OSHA has authority only “to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.” The court found that COVID presents a “universal risk” not limited to the workplace that is “no different from day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” Note: This decision addresses only the stay decisions… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Supreme Court to hear challenges to OSHA & CMS vaccination mandates this week

By Mike O’Brien On Dec. 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the stay of OSHA’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees in a split 2-1 decision. Wasting no time, OSHA published a compliance update to provide new deadlines. Covered employers have through Jan. 10, 2022, to adopt and publish a vaccination policy, to ascertain and record employee vaccination status, and to implement a masking requirement for all unvaccinated employees. Employers have through Feb. 9, 2022, to begin collection of negative weekly COVID tests from unvaccinated employees. You’ll find that compliance update, and compliance resources, on OSHA’s website. Opponents of the vaccination mandate filed immediate challenges with the United States Supreme Court. On Dec. 22, 2021, the Supreme Court issued an order that it would hear oral arguments… . . . read more.

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Fear of COVID-19, demand for flexibility dominate return to the office

As the Delta variant continues to proliferate, 42 percent of workers are worried about returning to the workplace for fear of contracting COVID-19. This marks a substantial jump to Sept. 1 from June 2021 when only 24 percent had that concern. “With headlines about the rise of the Delta variant, breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, and an overburdened healthcare system in much of the country, COVID-19 concerns that were subsiding just two months ago have risen,” said Rebecca Ray, PhD, Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. Conducted in August by The Conference Board, the new survey captured the thoughts of more than 2,400 US workers on topics including return-to-work anxiety, factors driving them to pursue new job opportunities, opinions about remote work, and more. The survey… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Updates and more updates about vaccine mandates

By Mike O’Brien Given the flurry of recent news reports surrounding COVID vaccine requirements, an update about mandates seems, well, mandatory. Like our readers, the authors of these updates look forward to a happier time, when the most pressing issues in HR law are not all somehow pandemic-related. In the meantime, we will do our best to keep you up to date. OSHA sends White House its vaccine mandate rule for review On Oct. 12, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent the White House its highly-anticipated rule implementing the mandatory vaccine requirements President Biden announced in September for businesses with 100 or more employees. The exact content of the rule (an Emergency Temporary Standard, or ETS) is not publicly known, but the basic parameters would require covered employers… . . . read more.

TOOL

Model Code of Conduct for Virtual Meetings

Far from eliminating workplace harassment, telecommuting has only caused it to morph into digital forms. As a result, medical offices and other employers need to tweak their harassment policies to deal with the new face of harassment. The virtual meeting, in particular, has become the digital age version of the holiday office party where employees feel emboldened to do and say things they wouldn’t dream of doing and saying to co-workers in-person. How do you crack down on this behavior? The starting point is to implement a Code of Conduct Virtual Meetings. Here’s a template you can adapt.

TOOL

Model Medical Office Workplace Vaccine Passport Policy

Although courts have yet to weigh in on the issue, guidelines from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other regulatory agencies indicate that employers may implement vaccine passports if they perform a workplace assessment and determine that limiting entry to the vaccinated is a necessary health and safety measure to prevent an imminent risk. Employers must also ensure that their passport policies comply with anti-discrimination and privacy protection requirements. Here’s a Model Policy that you can adapt for use at your own medical office, depending on the workplace-specific circumstances involved.

COMPLIANCE

5 things to do when implementing a vaccine passport policy at your medical office

Like many other health providers, you might have been undecided about whether to mandate that your employees get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, now that the FDA has fully approved a coronavirus vaccine, namely, the Pfizer BioNTech, you are on much stronger legal ground in requiring that employees get vaccinated. One strategy that may work, especially for offices that aren’t administering the vaccine for their own employees, is to implement a vaccine passport, i.e., a policy requiring personnel to present proof of their vaccination status to gain entry to the workplace. What is a vaccine passport? A “vaccine passport” is a commonly accepted means of showing that a person has received the COVID-19 vaccine. Some foreign governments are creating official, uniform cards that individuals must display. (Go to this link for… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

All private-sector employers with 100 or more employees must mandate vaccination or a weekly negative COVID-19 test

By Mike O’Brien President Biden spoke from the White House Sept. 9 to announce his new Path Out of the Pandemic Plan. Among other things, President Biden has instructed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop rules that will require private-sector employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that their employees be vaccinated or receive a weekly negative COVID test. Employers who fail to do so will face fines. Some media outlets report that such fines could be up to $14,000 per violation. Along with President Biden’s spoken remarks, the White House also issued this statement: The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

OSHA updates guidance to track the latest CDC mask recommendations

By Mike O’Brien  The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has updated its COVID workplace safety guidance entitled, Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. OSHA’s latest update on Aug. 13 “reflect[s] the July 27, 2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask and testing recommendations for fully vaccinated people.” Prior to this update, OSHA had stated that fully vaccinated employees did not need to wear masks and that COVID safety precautions really were focused on protecting only unvaccinated workers. However, that guidance has now changed in response to the highly contagious Delta variant. OSHA’s guidance includes “recommendations,” that do not carry the force of law and “creates no new legal obligations.” Still, OSHA’s counsel likely becomes a standard of reasonableness by… . . . read more.

Are we making a mistake to require our employees to get vaccinated?

By Lynne Curry Question: Your recent post reported that many employers, including Facebook, Google, Tyson Foods, the Walt Disney Company, Houston Methodist Medical Center, United Airlines, Cisco, DoorDash, the Washington Post and Frontier Airlines, require all onsite employees to get vaccinated. That same day, we learned the Pentagon would require all active-duty troops to become vaccinated by Sept. 15. That, plus our history—having to shut down for two weeks when one of our employees tested for COVID, and the flack we were getting from vaccinated employees who have to wear masks because of a handful of unvaccinated employees, made us decide to have require all employees to get vaccinated. We didn’t expect the unglued reaction that came from our unvaccinated employees. We received repeated texts and emails from employees telling… . . . read more.


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