Topic: Coronavirus

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Essential guidance for employers implementing COVID-19 measures at the workplace

As Singapore moves towards living with COVID-19 as an endemic disease, the Government has issued guidance for employers on the COVID-19 measures to be implemented at the workplace. We will discuss the guidance issued by (i) the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) on the updated safe management measures at the workplace; (ii) the MOM on COVID-19 vaccination in relation to the workplace; and (iii) the Personal Data Protection Commission (“PDPC”) on the collection of personal data at the workplace for COVID-19 contact tracing.

MOM guidance on the updated Safe Management Measures at the workplace[1]

MOM has … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Safety Plans vs. Communicable Disease Plans: Have you Caught the Differences?

On July 1, 2021, British Columbia enthusiastically took the next step in its four-step COVID-19 Restart Plan. The transition to Step 3 brought several changes, including the transition for employers to move away from the previously required COVID-19 Safety Plan to the now required Communicable Disease Plan (“CDP”).

WorkSafeBC has published detailed guidance for employers on what is expected in a CDP, including a Communicable Disease Prevention: A Guide for Employers as well as new Guidelines for the Workers Compensation Act on communicable disease prevention at work.

Although many of the expectations for employers in a COVID-19 Safety Plan continue … Continue Reading

Returning to the Workplace – Government Guidance for a Covid-safe working environment from July 19

The UK Government announced that it would be lifting many of the restrictions that applied from 19 July and entering into what it terms Step 4 of its roadmap.  Part of Step 4 is that the government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can and so employers can start to plan a return to the office. While there are already in place a number of guidance notes for employers on how to provide a Covid safe work environment, these are being amended from 19 July.  So what is the government guidance for employers going forward?… Continue Reading

US: New HERO Act Imposes Significant Obligations on New York Employers

New York State employers should be aware of a recent law aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19 and other airborne infectious diseases, the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act), which imposes significant obligations on covered employers.  Among other things, the HERO Act requires the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) to develop industry-specific model safety standards, requires private New York State employers of all sizes to implement and distribute health and safety plans that meet specified requirements, and requires certain employers to permit the creation of joint employer-employee workplace health and safety committees.

Model Safety Standards

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US: OSHA Issues COVID-19 Workplace Safety Rule

On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a mandatory workplace safety rule requiring employers to take specified steps to protect workers from COVID-19.  However, the rule applies only to health care settings.  Referred to as an emergency temporary standard (ETS), the rule exempts fully vaccinated workers from masking, distancing, and barrier requirements when in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that any person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be present.

OSHA has also updated its Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace guidance for workplaces … Continue Reading

“Long Covid” and the implications for employers

“Long Covid” (or “post-Covid-19 syndrome”) is a condition where people who have contracted Covid-19 continue to experience symptoms for weeks or even months after their initial infection.  It affects individuals differently, and symptoms can range from fatigue, headaches, loss of taste or smell, lasting fever or anxiety, to respiratory difficulties, muscle weakness, blood clots and even organ damage.

The Office for National Statistics in the UK reported in April 2021 that an estimated 1.1 million people in the UK had symptoms associated with long Covid, with over two-thirds of these individuals having had (or suspected to have had) Covid-19 at … Continue Reading

US: Labor Department Sets Occupational Safety & Health Meeting

The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health will conduct a virtual meeting on June 22, 2021, to address current workplace issues and its prior work.  The details are set forth in today’s U.S. Department of Labor announcement.  The DOL and federal OSHA have been shifting priorities since the initiation of the Biden Administration, and are now focusing on enhanced workplace health and safety inspections and enforcement, notably including COVID-related worker protection issues.  There has been talk of increasing the amount of monetary civil penalties and potentially triggering associated criminal indictments for particularly egregious employer misfeasance.… Continue Reading

US: Cal/OSHA publishes new standard that causes confusion for California employers

On May 28, 2021, the employer community got its first glimpse of a revised Cal/OSHA emergency, temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19 that may become law by June 15, 2021. That day—June 15—is significant because it is the date the governor set as a goal for California to “fully open its economy.” In addition, the CDC’s new guidance allowing fully vaccinated persons to go maskless in some settings was another encouraging sign that normalcy was just around the corner. Indeed, Cal/OSHA had promised to tweak the existing COVID-19 standard with these developments in mind. Instead, the revised standard simply whittles … Continue Reading

Right to work checks: Extension of the COVID-19 concession to 20 June 2021 – now extended to 31 August 2021

In order to obtain a statutory defence against illegal working, employers should check the right to work of all employees’ original documents in person on or before their employment commences.  In the absence of a correct check and in the event that an illegal working issue arises, this will assist the employer in avoiding civil liability.   As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the UK’s Home Office introduced a concession under which employers have temporarily not been required to see an employee’s original document in person in order to carry out a compliant right to work check, and instead can … Continue Reading

US: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccines and employer health and safety obligations

Federal OSHA has recently released guidance advising on employer health and safety obligations when employers require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. Specifically, OSHA addresses the potential (albeit rare to date) of an employee who incurs an adverse reaction to a mandated vaccination. In such a situation, the reaction will be deemed “work-related.”

The ultimate effect of this guidance is that if the adverse reaction involves days away from work, restricted work, transfer to another job or medical treatment beyond first aid, it will be considered a “recordable” incident. In other words, the reaction will … Continue Reading

US: Why a Mandatory Vaccination Policy May Not Restore Business as Usual for Companies

Throughout the United States, employers are weighing whether to have a mandatory vaccination policy for COVID-19. The objective is to bring employees back to work safely and the understandable desire to return to our pre-pandemic status quo.

Mandatory vaccination policy

This post does not advocate in favor or against a mandatory vaccination policy—except to note there may be good reasons not to require it; the law requires accommodation from such a requirement in some circumstances; and there is no clear legal authority to compel employees as a condition of employment to receive a vaccine which has only FDA Emergency Use Authorization. Rather, it’s … Continue Reading

COVID-19: Mandatory testing in companies

In view of worrying pandemic figures, the German Federal Government has amended the existing “SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance” (Corona-ArbSchV) (the Ordinance). Employers now face the additional obligation of offering COVID-19 testing to their employees, unless the employees work from home.

Introduction of mandatory testingContinue Reading

US: New York employers must provide paid time off for COVID-19 vaccinations

New COVID-19 vaccine paid time off requirement for New York employers

New York employers should be aware of a recently enacted New York State law that entitles employees to paid time off from work to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

COVID-19 vaccine

Under this new law, New York employers must grant each employee a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection, to take leave for purposes of obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine.

For employees who will receive a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, this means that such employees will be entitled to up to eight … Continue Reading

US: New COBRA Premium Subsidy in Third COVID Relief Stimulus Act

The latest COVID-relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act, will allow most current and former employees and their dependents to receive fully subsidized COBRA continuation coverage beginning April 1 and continuing through September 30, 2021—even if they never elected COBRA or dropped coverage. To learn more about what employers with group health plans subject to federal COBRA need to know about the new law, read our legal update, Beware of the COBRA lurking in the weeds of the latest COVID-relief bill.… Continue Reading

Extension of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until end September 2021

In the budget on 3 March 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the CJRS) would be extended until the end of September 2021. The CJRS was due to end on 30 April 2021, but with many restrictions (in particular in the hospitality and leisure sectors) not being fully lifted until June at the earliest, the Chancellor was under pressure to extend the scheme. There are however changes to eligibility criteria and contributions under the scheme.

From 30 April 2021 until 30 June employees who are placed on furlough under the CJRS will continue to receive 80% … Continue Reading

What options do working parents have when trying to balance their work and home responsibilities during the pandemic?

The current national lockdown in the UK has imposed school and childcare closures for all but those children of essential key workers. Even prior to lockdown measures, many children were being sent home regularly to isolate, due to a positive case of Covid-19 in their class or school bubble. This has inevitably left many working parents struggling to balance their work with caring responsibilities, whether this is balancing duties while working from home, or managing childcare in order to go into the workplace if working from home is impossible.

To date, there are currently no emergency provisions in place for … Continue Reading

The COVID-19 vaccine @ work: a Dutch employment law perspective

At a time when the world is suffering from the COVID pandemic, hope rests in the advent of Covid-19 vaccines. In addition, employers are trying to anticipate the ever-changing situation in the workplace. In doing so, they must adhere to existing laws and regulations, which were not written with a situation like this in mind. The vaccination program is slowly but surely getting underway in the Netherlands. The question becomes: as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to everyone in the near future, is it possible to require employees to get the vaccine before returning to the workplace?

Can employers require Continue Reading

Germany: COVID-19-vaccination and employment law

In Germany, employers are obliged to take all necessary measures, including those to protect against infection (such as offering working from home, increased hygiene protections, social distancing and behavior) and offering voluntary company vaccination programs, in order to protect the health and safety of the workers in the company and to fulfil their obligations under occupational health and safety law. The newly developed vaccines are offering some hope in turning the tide in the fight against COVID-19. The Federal Labor Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht – BAG) had already provided guidance to employers on their obligations and liability in connection with employer-initiated … Continue Reading

US: Latest California Labor & Employment Developments from January 2021

This past month saw the inauguration of President Biden, who promptly took steps that will have an immediate impact on California employers. Plus, new COVID-related laws took effect, some expired (but may be re-enacted), and a federal appeals court eased the meal/rest break burden on the transportation industry. For a brief summary of these an other California labor and employment law developments from January 2021, read our California wrap-up: The top five employment and labor developments for California employers in January 2021.… Continue Reading

Germany: Home office under the new Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance

To combat and prevent the further spread of COVID-19 (the SARS-CoV-2-virus), the German government has issued a new “SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance” (Corona-ArbSchV) (the Ordinance) providing for additional and time-limited measures to reduce workplace-related personal contacts. These measures include the obligation for employers to offer their employees home working, unless there are compelling operational reasons not to do so. In addition, existing occupational health and safety regulations will be tightened.… Continue Reading

Will COVID-19 vaccinations become mandatory for employees in Italy?

Italy’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is underway, with health care workers and staff in care facilities at the front of the queue. According to a recent report published by the Health Ministry, more than 1 million people received the inoculation in the first two weeks of the nationwide vaccination campaign. This makes Italy one of the fastest-vaccinating countries in the European Union, but the roll out is still not going as quickly as hoped. The current supply of the vaccine is sufficient only to inoculate a small minority of eligible people in Italy and a definitive plan for effective and efficient … Continue Reading

L’accord national interprofessionnel du 26 novembre 2020 : « soft law » à la française

Le télétravail s’est largement développé en France au fil des années, et naturellement, ce mode de travail a été particulièrement utilisé, bon gré mal gré, par les entreprises au cours de l’année 2020, à la faveur de la crise sanitaire, et des recommandations (plus ou moins liantes) du Gouvernement.

Les bases du télétravail ont été posées par un accord national interprofessionnel signé par les partenaires sociaux en 2005 (étendu en 2006), dont certaines dispositions ont été transposées par une loi du 22 mars 2012 dans le Code du travail. Ces règles ont eu pour objet de créer un véritable statut … Continue Reading

Can French employers require their employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine?

Further to the approval by EU authorities of the vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, and further to the recommendations of the French Health authorities on the vaccination programme, the French vaccine campaign against Covid-19 was launched yesterday, at the same time as in all EU countries.

In France, the Government established a specific strategy regarding the vaccine campaign. This includes targeting the most vulnerable and exposed persons first, and progressively extending the Covid-19 vaccine to the rest of the population.

French employers are now asking whether they can insist that employees are vaccinated before returning to the workplace. However, … Continue Reading

Can employers require their employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine?

With the announcement that one of the Covid-19 vaccines has received approval from the UK regulator, employers are now asking whether they can insist that employees are vaccinated before returning to the workplace. There are clearly legal and moral issues that need to be considered.

Firstly, the anticipated Covid-19 vaccination programme in the UK will not be made mandatory as the UK government does not have legal power to do this, alongside the challenges and human rights concerns this would raise in any event. The UK Government has the power to prevent, control or mitigate the spread of an infection … Continue Reading

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