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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

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

US: OSHA Notices HazCom Hearing

We reported previously on federal OSHA’s efforts to revise and update various provisions of the Hazard Communication Standard in order to pursue greater workplace safety.  On May 20, 2021, OSHA announced an informal public hearing commencing on September 21, 2021 for the purpose of entertaining stakeholder comments and recommendations.  For more information, please see this Trade Release, or reach out to us with any questions.… Continue Reading

New US federal OSHA pamphlet issued

PPE for Emergency Response and Reocvery Workers Pamphlet coverA new federal OSHA pamphlet has been issued.

The OSHA pamphlet, “PPE for Emergency Response and Recovery Workers,” provides guidance to employers on the proper selection and use of and training concerning personal protective equipment in responding to emergencies and other incidents requiring it.

Among other advice, OSHA reminds employers of the four levels (A – D) of PPE available.

If you are an employer and need guidance on US Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Our OSHA team

Our global health and safety law team provides clients with comprehensive legal advice on … Continue Reading

US: DOL issues COBRA premium subsidy guidance and model notices

The US Department of Labor recently published answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and model notices for the new COBRA premium subsidy made available to many employees and their dependents under the American Rescue Plan Act. As explained in an earlier post, the new law allows “assistance eligible individuals” (AEIs) – defined as COBRA qualified  beneficiaries who had a qualifying event due to a reduction in hours or an involuntary termination of employment, and who elect coverage – to receive fully subsidized COBRA continuation coverage for periods covering April 1 through September 30, 2021. The new law also extends … Continue Reading

DOL independent contractor rule withdrawn

Trump-era independent contractor rule withdrawn

Effective today, May 6, 2021, the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Trump-era independent contractor rule has been officially withdrawn.  The Trump-era independent contractor rule, which never went into effect due to the change between presidential administrations, would have made it easier for companies to classify workers as independent contractors.

Trump-era independent contractor rule

The Trump-era independent contractor rule expressly adopted and clarified the “economic realities test” for worker classification, and would have narrowed the focus of the inquiry to five distinct factors: (1) the nature and degree of the individual’s control over the work; (2) … 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

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

US: Combating Human Trafficking of Domestic Workers In The United States

It is difficult to imagine that the evil of human trafficking, and all the pain and suffering it entails, can still be so pervasive this deep into the 21st Century. One would have expected that contemporary domestic and international law enforcement, to say nothing of the United Nations and all the monies it has at its disposal for such purposes, would serve as a resolute bulwark against this scourge of modern humanity. And yet it is a dominant player in the headlines as we learn daily of some new outrage perpetrated by those who would profit from human misery, sexual … Continue Reading

US: Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposal to update Hazard Communication Standard

On February 5, 2021, federal OSHA issued a proposed rule to update the US Department of Labor’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS or HazCom) to align with the seventh revision of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).  In support of its proposed rule, OSHA asserts the update will increase worker protection and reduce occupational illness and injury by continuing to improve the information on product labels and Safety Data Sheets. In particular, the new modifications are intended to align with standards implemented by other federal agencies and Canada.  For more information, read our legal … 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

California imposes new requirement of a COVID-19 Prevention Program

With the approval of Cal/OSHA’s new COVID-19 regulations, the proponents of action-taking won out over those who felt California’s existing laws, regulations, and enforcement arsenal were sufficient to meet the moment. It’s clear that California likes to lead—though it’s not the first state to enact specific COVID-19 standards (Virginia and Oregon got there first).… Continue Reading

US: California employers must take measures to curb workplace spread of coronavirus under emergency CAL/OSHA rules

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has approved emergency, temporary COVID-19 regulations under California’s Occupational Safety & Health Act. California employers must now establish specific measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in nearly every workplace in California.  The emergency regulations, which the Standards Board approved on Thursday night by a unanimous vote, must first be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for final approval. Upon submission, the OAL will have only 10 calendar days to approve or deny the proposed emergency regulations. If approved, the OAL will file the emergency regulation with the Secretary of … Continue Reading

US: Amendments to New York City sick leave policies required as soon as possible

New York City employers are required to amend their existing sick leave policies as soon as possible due to amendments to the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (the “ESSTA”) that went into effect on September 30, 2020.  These recent amendments attempt to align the ESSTA more closely with the recently-enacted New York State sick leave law, which also went into effect on September 30, 2020 (though employees do not have the right to use accrued sick leave under the New York State sick leave law until January 1, 2021).

To learn more about the recent changes … Continue Reading

US: Virginia becomes first state to adopt COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

On July 27, 2020, the first state “Emergency Temporary Standard” (ETS) for COVID-19 went into effect. The ETS requires employers in the state to develop and implement COVID-19 prevention and control measures in the workplace. The ETS is in effect for six months, although this period could be shortened if the Virginia State of Emergency expires, a permanent standard is enacted or the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board repeals it.

Employers covered by the Emergency Temporary Standard

The ETS applies to all public and private employers and places of employment in Virginia, with the exception of federal employers, private … Continue Reading

US: Coming soon – New York State employers should prepare for paid sick leave law to take effect in September

As part of the most recent New York State budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a new mandatory paid sick leave program affecting all New York employers. Under the law, all New York employers will need to provide their employees with paid or unpaid sick leave (whether or not related to the COVID-19 pandemic) as follows:

  • For employers with 100 or more employees, up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year must be provided to each employee.
  • For employers with between five and 99 employees, and for employers with fewer than five employees but with a net
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US: California: San Francisco employees laid off due to COVID-19 may have reemployment rights under new ordinance

On July 3, San Francisco’s new “Back to Work” emergency ordinance took effect, requiring employers to rehire certain employees laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic when the employer seeks to fill the same position formerly held by the laid-off worker, or a substantially similar position. The ordinance will expire on September 2, 2020, but may continue if extended by the City of San Francisco.  For more information on the requirements of this new ordinance creating special reemployment rights, see our legal update, With San Francisco’s Back to Work Ordinance now in effect, employees laid-off due to COVID-19 Continue Reading

US: Return to work considerations for New York employers during COVID-19 pandemic

Businesses with operations in New York State and, particularly, in New York City, face unique obstacles with respect to reopening their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With over 380,000 confirmed cases across the state, and over 200,000 confirmed cases in New York City, most New York residents have been affected by the virus in some way, and many are apprehensive about reentering the workplace. New York City’s dense population of over 8 million residents and approximately 10 million commuters — many of whom rely on public transportation — undoubtedly exacerbates these concerns.  In light of these concerns, Governor Cuomo extended … Continue Reading

US: Return to work in an office environment: Employer considerations and best practices

Many businesses quickly shifted to remote work, where possible, and abandoned operations in an office setting when COVID-19 became a pandemic or when jurisdictions required or encouraged people to stay at home. Now, as these businesses contemplate resuming operations in the general office setting, they are grappling with a myriad of issues and concerns.  See our article COVID-19:  Best practice considerations for resuming work in an office setting for employer considerations for resuming work in the office setting, including advice on determining when to reopen, determining modifications to be made in the workplace, employee communication and training considerations, implementing the … Continue Reading

US: California court addresses legality of unlimited or uncapped vacation policies

Recently, in McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation, Inc., the California Court of Appeals addressed the legality of unlimited or uncapped vacation policies under California law. Three exempt employees sued the company for payment of unused vacation time at termination, despite being subject to an unlimited paid time off policy, because they argued the policy was neither unlimited in policy nor practice. The court agreed. Fortunately for California employers, the decision sets forth guidelines for employers to properly implement such policies and avoid liability.  For more information, see our legal update, California court finds employer liable under unlimited vacation policyContinue Reading

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