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Does Your COVID-19 Employee Health-Screening Policy Need an Update?

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Does Your COVID-19 Employee Health-Screening Policy Need an Update?

Employers that conduct daily temperature checks and other COVID-19 health screens may want to review and revise their policies as rules and recommendations change, particularly in locations with high COVID-19 transmission rates. New coronavirus cases recently dropped below 100,000 a day for the first time since Aug. 3, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still reporting a rolling seven-day average of about 95,000 new cases and more than 1,400 deaths each day. Additionally, more than 95 percent of U.S. counties are experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates. To help keep employees safe and curb the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends that employers consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks before employees enter the worksite, and some jurisdictions require such screening. Here are some key points employers should note about conducting these health checks. Review State and Local RulesSome states and localities require or recommend that businesses conduct employee health screening in certain situations. For example, in California, employers must comply with the state’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, which require employers to ensure employees don’t enter the worksite if they have symptoms or have been exposed to the coronavirus. “Employers should also have procedures to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms and must have a plan to keep other employees safe in the workplace,” according to the California Department of Industrial Relations. Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires screening and recommends temperature checks. “While temperature checks are not specifically required, Nevada OSHA expects employers to monitor employee health conditions by conducting daily surveys of changes to employee health conditions,” according to the state’s website. “Temperature checks are a useful method of identifying potentially infectious people in the workplace and can serve as a method of screening for health issues.”Law firm Littler Mendelson has a list of statewide orders and noted that local laws may apply in addition to state requirements. “Even if state or local law do not require any screening mechanisms, employers are able to implement temperature checks or other types of screening prior to allowing employees or other visitors to enter the worksite,” noted Michael DeLarco, an attorney with Hogan Lovells in New York City. Medical Inquiries”Employers need to understand that temperature checks and health-screening questions are medical questions,” said Brooke Schneider, an attorney with Withers in New York City. “And so, like any other inquiries into health, employers need to consider wage and hour laws, disability laws, privacy laws and document-retention laws. All come into play when an employer is setting up policies that deal with health concerns.”The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from requiring medical examinations unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. For pandemic-related screens, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said that employers may measure employees’ body temperature, but they should note that some people with COVID-19 don’t have a fever (and some people with a fever don’t have COVID-19).Employers should vigilantly track changing guidance from the CDC when tailoring their COVID-19 …

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OSHA Sends COVID-19 Vaccination Rule to White House for Review

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OSHA Sends COVID-19 Vaccination Rule to White House for Review

​Businesses with at least 100 employees may soon receive direction on an anticipated COVID-19 workplace vaccination and testing mandate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). On Oct. 12, the agency sent its emergency temporary standard (ETS) to the White House for final review.President Announces PlanOn Sept. 9, President Joe Biden announced that OSHA would issue an ETS requiring covered businesses to mandate that their workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly testing. Covered employers will also have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated or recover from any side effects of getting vaccinated. Employers that don’t comply with the vaccine mandate or paid-time-off requirement may face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. The rule will impact more than 80 million workers, according to the White House.(SHRM Online)Expedited ProcessOSHA sent the rule to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on Oct. 12. The regulatory review process can sometimes take months, but Biden called for an expedited process for the emergency standard. So the regulatory office could quickly conclude its review any day now, which would prompt OSHA to publish the ETS. The ETS could take effect immediately upon publication, but OSHA generally provides businesses with a little time before they must comply. (Bloomberg Law)Questions RemainOSHA’s plan hasn’t been made available to the public. “The details of what the ETS will include are scarce at this point, leaving many questions unanswered,” noted law firm Fisher Phillips. How will the 100-employee threshold be counted? Will employers be required to collect proof of vaccination? What type of testing will be required? Will remote employees be covered?”You should begin preparing now for the forthcoming Emergency Temporary Standard by establishing policies for determining employees’ vaccination status and procedures for tracking weekly test results,” according to Fisher Phillips. “You should also prepare for the possibility that employees may refuse to comply with the requirements of the ETS and begin planning an appropriate response—which would include terminating their employment.”Fisher Phillips predicts that the White House will approve the ETS by Oct. 15 and OSHA will make the details available to the public between Oct. 18 and Oct. 20. Employers may have some additional time before the rule is officially published and enforcement begins. (SHRM Online) and (Fisher Phillips)Employers React to MandateSome business leaders are waiting to review the details of OSHA’s ETS before making changes to their policies. Other executives have extended their remote work policies to give themselves time to review the ETS. Some smaller employers are concerned about the cost and other compliance burdens that the new rule will impose, and at least one small-business advocacy group is planning to file a legal challenge. According to a survey of HR leaders conducted by research firm Gartner on Sept. 15, 46 percent of respondents said they plan to require employees to get vaccinated in locations that allow such policies. However, more than 33 percent of respondents said they remain unsure about their vaccine plans. (The Wall Street Journal)Federal Employees …

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Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Paid Leave Obligation

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Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Paid Leave Obligation

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker just signed legislation extending the statewide mandate for employers to provide emergency paid leave related to COVID-19. These COVID-19 paid leave obligations will now continue until April 1, 2022. What do Bay State employers need to know about this latest change in an already confusing sea of voluntary and mandatory leave mandates?What’s Changed?As avid readers of our Insights may recall, we provided a comprehensive assessment of Temporary Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave statute when it was enacted by the legislature in May 2021. The good news for you is that the legislature left the existing law largely intact.However, in addition to extending the mandate from Sept. 30, 2021 to April 1, 2022, the legislature made one change to the qualifying reasons for leave. Employees will now be eligible to care for a family member who “is obtaining immunization related to COVID-19 or is recovering from an injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization.” This change aligns the self-care and family-care provisions of the law and further bolsters the Commonwealth’s commitment to encouraging vaccinations.It does not appear, however, that employees who have used their 40-hour entitlement will be entitled to any additional leave under the statute. According to a Frequently Asked Questions page maintained by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, while the law does not address how many times an employee can take leave, there is a cap with respect to total hours (40).A Brief RefresherAs a reminder, all public and private employers in Massachusetts (other than the U.S. government) are required to provide up to 40 additional hours of paid leave to employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19. The amount of paid leave an employee is entitled to depends on the number of hours they work in a given week:Those regularly working 40 or more hours per week will receive 40 hours of COVID-19 paid leave.Employees regularly working fewer than 40 hours per week will receive COVID-19 paid leave that is equal to the number of hours that the employee works on average over a 14-day period.Employees working varying hours from week to week will receive COVID-19 paid leave equivalent to the average number of hours they worked each week over the six-month period immediately preceding the date on which they take the COVID-19 paid leave. If the employee did not work a six-month period prior to taking leave, then they will receive leave based on their reasonable expectation of the average number of hours per week that they would normally be scheduled to work.What Can Employees Use the Leave For?Employees may use COVID-19 paid leave for the following qualifying reasons:Self-isolating and caring for oneself because of the employee’s COVID-19 diagnosis.Seeking or obtaining a medical diagnosis, care or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms.Obtaining immunization related to COVID-19 or recovering from an injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization.Caring for a family member who is self-isolating due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.Caring for a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for …

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Moderna won't share its COVID-19 vaccine formula

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Moderna won't share its COVID-19 vaccine formula

Moderna has no plans to share the recipe for its COVID-19 vaccine because executives have concluded that scaling up the company’s own production is the best way to increase the global supply, the company’s chairman said Monday.This post was originally published on this site

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Covid pandemic has pushed poor countries to record debt levels – World Bank

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Covid pandemic has pushed poor countries to record debt levels – World Bank

World BankCovid pandemic has pushed poor countries to record debt levels – World Bank‘Tragic reversal’ has set back progress, president says, as he calls for a comprehensive plan Coronavirus – latest updates See all our coronavirus coverage Larry ElliottMon 11 Oct 2021 10.57 EDTLast modified on Mon 11 Oct 2021 14.22 EDTThe Covid-19 pandemic has led to a “tragic reversal” in development and pushed debt in poor countries to record levels, the head of the World Bank has said.David Malpass, the bank’s president, warned the virus had widened the gap between rich and poor nations, setting back progress by years and, in the case of some countries, by a decade.Announcing new World Bank figures showing the debt burden of more than 70 low-income nations had increased by a record 12% to $860bn (£630bn) in 2020, Malpass called for a comprehensive plan to ease the debt pressures and for rich countries to make vaccines available to the less well-off.Wealthy nations must share more resources or risk crisis for billions, warns UN chiefRead moreHe said one particular problem was the lack of a bankruptcy process to help in cases where debts had become unsustainable. Under the current system, companies can declare themselves bankrupt but countries cannot.With income per head expected to rise by an average of 5% in developed countries this year compared with 0.5% in developing countries, Malpass said the problem of inequality …

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OSHA Cites Employer for COVID-19 Safety Violations After Worker’s Death

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OSHA Cites Employer for COVID-19 Safety Violations After Worker’s Death

A national auto insurance company is facing $23,406 in proposed penalties after investigators found that a Colorado branch ignored pandemic-related safety rules and “needlessly exposed” employees to co-workers with COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).OSHA initiated an investigation on April 21 after receiving a complaint about unsafe working conditions and an employee’s COVID-19-related death. “This company showed an indifference toward the safety and well-being of its employees, including one who fell victim to the coronavirus,” said OSHA Denver Area Director Amanda Kupper. The employer has 15 days to comply or contest the citation. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. OSHA has issued about 650 coronavirus-related citations since July 2020, with total initial penalties exceeding $4 million as of Oct. 1, according to the agency. We’ve rounded up resources and articles from SHRM Online and other trusted outlets on COVID-19-related litigation and workplace safety protocols. COVID-19 Litigation ContinuesAccording to law firm Littler Mendelson, there were 3,784 COVID-19-related lawsuits filed against employers between March 12, 2020 and Oct. 1, 2021. That number includes 356 class actions. The states with the most filings are California, New Jersey, New York, Florida and Ohio. Industries with the most filings include health care, manufacturing, public administration, retail and hospitality. (Littler Mendelson)Increased Litigation Foreshadows Rough End to 2021A sharp increase in pandemic-related workplace litigation this summer could spell trouble for employers, as attorneys expect to see a steady increase in COVID-19 lawsuits filed by employees across the country. “We typically see a slowdown in new lawsuit filings over the summer for a number of obvious reasons,” said Jay Glunt, a Pittsburgh-based Fisher Phillips attorney who spends considerable time defending employment litigation. “But the fact that we didn’t see much of a lull in employment-related COVID litigation—and in fact saw an uptick—sends a clear signal that we could be in for a rough couple of months ahead.”(SHRM Online)OSHA Recommends Multi-Layered Approach to Workplace Safety Employers must provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free from known hazards. According to OSHA, the coronavirus spreads mainly among unvaccinated people who are in close contact with each other, particularly when they are indoors and where ventilation is poor. “Vaccination is the key element in a multi-layered approach to protect workers,” OSHA said. “Multi-layered controls tailored to your workplace are especially important for those workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk.” COVID-19 prevention programs generally include telework options and flexible scheduling, engineering controls (such as proper ventilation), vaccination and other safety policies, requirements for wearing personal protective equipment and face coverings, physical distancing measures, and enhanced cleaning programs.(OSHA)OSHA’s Current DirectivesOSHA issued a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) in June that applies only to the health care industry. The health care ETS focuses on settings where coronavirus patients are treated, including hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The agency also provided detailed recommendations for other employers on protecting unvaccinated and at-risk workers as the coronavirus crisis continues. The agency updated its guidance on Aug. 13 to reflect the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s …

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Australia Federal court rules insurers don’t have to pay $1bn in Covid claims from businesses

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Australia Federal court rules insurers don’t have to pay $1bn in Covid claims from businesses

Insurance industryFederal court rules insurers don’t have to pay out more than $1bn in Covid claims from businessesJudge finds insurance firms don’t have to grant claims under clauses that relate to the government closing business premises due to a disease outbreak Get our free news app; get our morning email briefing Ben ButlerFri 8 Oct 2021 05.20 EDTLast modified on Fri 8 Oct 2021 06.08 EDTInsurance companies have won a series of test cases in a federal court battle over whether they have to pay out claims, estimated to exceed $1bn, over interruptions to business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.Federal court judge Justice Jayne Jagot ruled the insurance companies should not have to pay claims made under clauses that relate to the government closing business premises due to an outbreak of disease at or nearby the premises, damage for an outbreak at the premises itself and damage due to restriction of access to premises because of a catastrophe.Jagot said that other than in one of the test cases – a travel agency in Melbourne, where there was an outbreak of Covid – “I have concluded that these insuring clauses do not apply in the circumstances of each case.”Mice, floods and the climate crisis: why your insurance won’t cover society-wide catastrophes | Richard DennissRead moreShe said in nine cases before the court the actions of health authorities in closing down …

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Protect mental health in the workplace during COVID-19

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Protect mental health in the workplace during COVID-19

Work arrangements and conditions have changed considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has brought new psychosocial challenges for the health and well-being of workers. An ILO guide contains the key elements needed to protect the health and well-being of workers.This post was originally published on this site

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Healthcare workers fail to obtain TRO against state COVID-19 vaccine regulation

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Healthcare workers fail to obtain TRO against state COVID-19 vaccine regulation

By Brandi O. Brown, J.D. A federal district court in Rhode Island denied the request for a TRO filed by a group of healthcare workers who sought injunctive relief after the state promulgated an emergency regulation requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1, 2021. They claimed that the regulation violated the U.S. Constitution and Title VII because it did not allow the workers to obtain a religious exemption. The court found that they did not demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of those claims. In particular, the court noted that employers may still be able to provide religious accommodation (Dr. T v. Alexander-Scott, September 30, 2021, McElroy, M.). New COVID-19 regulation. On August 17, 2021, the Rhode Island Department of Health promulgated a regulation requiring all healthcare workers, except those who met a very narrow medical exemption, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1. According to the workers, the regulation did not include an opportunity for a worker to obtain a religious exemption and therefore violated the U.S. Constitution and Title VII. Healthcare workers seek relief. They sought a temporary restraining order and asked the court to enjoin the health department from enforcing any requirement that employers deny religious exemptions or that they revoke any exemptions already granted before the regulation was promulgated. They also sought to enjoin the department from interfering with the granting of religious exemptions going forward and from taking any disciplinary action against them. They also asked that the court, if it were to deny their request for a TRO, to issue an order denying a preliminary injunction. Likelihood of success? Concluding that the state defendants would be unduly prejudiced if not allowed an opportunity to develop a factual record before consideration of a preliminary injunction, the court focused solely on the request for a temporary restraining order. In deciding whether to grant a TRO, the court noted, it had to consider four factors: (1) the likelihood of the healthcare workers’ success on the merits; (2) the potential for irreparable harm if relief was denied; (3) the balance of hardships; and (4) the effect of the court’s ruling on the public interest. If the first factor is not established, the court noted, the other prongs become irrelevant and the healthcare workers bear the burden of demonstrating that the factors weighed in their favor. Not on Supremacy Clause claim. In this case, the court concluded, the workers did not meet their burden. Regarding the constitutional claims made by the workers, the court noted that it has long been held that mandatory vaccination laws are a valid exercise of a state’s police powers. As a result, those laws have withstood constitutional challenge. The workers also argued that the regulation compels healthcare employers to disregard Title VII and, as a result, violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The state defendants’ response was two-fold. First, they argued, the Supremacy Clause does not create a private right of action. Second, they argued, …

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The latest COVID wave is firings, as offices reopen and unvaccinated workers face the music

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The latest COVID wave is firings, as offices reopen and unvaccinated workers face the music

Canada is facing a potential wave of terminations tied to mandatory workplace vaccine policies as a growing number of employers require workers to be fully inoculated against COVID-19 — or risk losing their jobs, legal experts say.This post was originally published on this site

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