On April 23, 2021, the New York state legislature delivered a copy of the Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act” or the “Act”) to Governor Andrew Cuomo for
Continue Reading Governor to Consider Significant New Health and Safety Obligations as NY HERO Act Passes State Legislature

On March 12, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) launched its new COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (“NEP”).  The new OSHA directive outlines policies and procedures for minimizing worker exposures to COVID-19 by targeting certain “high-hazard” industries and worksites where employees may have a high frequency of close contact exposures.  The NEP and related updates to OSHA’s Interim Enforcement Response Plan (“IERP”) are in response to President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order, which also gave OSHA until March 15 to determine whether a COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (“ETS”) is necessary.  Although March 15 has come and gone, OSHA may nevertheless still consider and implement a national ETS.  In the meantime, employers should review the information below and familiarize themselves with the NEP to determine whether they may be targeted for a COVID-19-related federal OSHA inspection this spring and summer.
Continue Reading OSHA Adopts New COVID-19 National Emphasis Program to Increase Its Enforcement Efforts

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted its Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on COVID-19 prevention in the workplace on November 19, 2020, which we covered here.  Shortly after their adoption, the ETS became binding and enforceable against nearly all California employers effective November 30, 2020.  The next day, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) published frequently asked questions to provide guidance to employers on compliance with the extensive requirements under the ETS.  In light of significant pushback from employers finding themselves needing to deal with complications arising from near-immediate compliance, Cal/OSHA recently published additional guidance and clarifications to impacted employers.  The complete and comprehensive set of is available here, but key takeaways are below:
Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Provides New Guidance for California Employers to Comply With COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine guidance for employers on December 16, 2020, providing answers related to workplace requirements about COVID-19 vaccines. With COVID-19 vaccinations underway in the U.S., the deployment poses complex questions for employers determining whether to mandate vaccines for all employees and how to manage such mandates. Although the EEOC acknowledges that federal employment laws do not prevent employers from following guidelines from public health authorities, the administration of vaccines to employees raises legal issues employers should consider. This article discusses the EEOC’s new guidance and the process required for employers mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their workforces.
Continue Reading EEOC Takes a Shot at COVID-19: Unvaccinated Employees Can be Excluded From the Workplace

On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board unanimously adopted emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 prevention in the workplace.  For much of the pandemic, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) has advised employers to follow its general and industry-specific guidance on various measures to implement to minimize the risk of employees’ exposure to COVID-19.  However, the new emergency standards will be binding and enforceable against nearly all California employers.  The emergency standards will become effective immediately on November 30, 2020, if approved as expected by the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) after the required 10-day review period.  Thus, employers must act quickly to ensure they are in compliance with the new standards and the requirement to prepare and implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program.
Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Adopts New COVID-19 Emergency Standards Requiring Immediate Action by Employers in California

On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 685 into law, establishing new requirements for employers to notify employees and their unions about a potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.  The new law, which will be in effect from January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023, also requires employers to report a COVID-19 “outbreak” at the worksite to local health authorities.  Further, AB 685 relaxes the pre-citation requirements that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) must follow before issuing a citation for a serious violation related to COVID-19.  This article breaks down the various requirements of the new law and identifies potential complications or issues that employers should be aware of when attempting to comply with the new requirements.
Continue Reading Enactment of AB 685 Establishes COVID-19 Exposure Notice Requirements for California Employers and Cal/OSHA Enforcement Changes

On September 19, 2020, California’s new law requiring large employers to provide employees with COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (“CSPSL”) becomes effective.  The new CSPSL requirement will be codified as Labor Code section 248.1 and was enacted via Assembly Bill (AB) 1867, which Governor Newsom signed into law on September 9, 2020.  In addition to addressing other leave and COVID-19 related items, AB 1867 also codified the existing CSPSL requirements for certain food sector workers under Executive Order N-51-20 as new Labor Code section 248.  In an effort to get employers up to speed on both section 248 and 248.1, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) published its responses to frequently asked questions on the new requirement to provide CSPSL.  This article briefly summarizes the key requirements of the new CSPSL law for non-food sector workers and identifies specific issues that employers in California should attend to as they hastily roll out the leave to employees.
Continue Reading What Employers Need to Know About California’s New COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law

Beginning July 27, 2020, Virginia will become one of the first states to implement comprehensive, mandatory safety regulations for employees returning to work during and post-COVID.  In a press release last week, Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board had voted to adopt an emergency temporary standard, §16VAC25-220, which is designed to “control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of” COVID-19.
Continue Reading Safety Protocols in the Face of COVID: What New Virginia Safety Standards Require of Employers

On July 2, 2020, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published an FAQ web page based on COVID-19 related inquiries that the agency received from the public.  The FAQ page provides a central location for information and links on a variety of topics related to best practices to ensure worker safety and protect workers’ rights during the ongoing pandemic.  Although the majority of the guidance contained in OSHA’s responses is not new, employers should review the FAQ page to ensure their health and safety policies and procedures follow OSHA’s recommendations.  This article lists the topics covered by the new FAQ page and identifies a few topics that may be of particular interest to employers.
Continue Reading OSHA Publishes Responses to Frequently Asked Questions on Worker Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic

On June 17, 2020, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued its “Guidance on Returning to Work.”  This new guidance is intended to supplement the previous “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” that OSHA published in March.  Most non-essential businesses throughout the country have already reopened and returned at least some portion of their workforce to the workplace.  However, with the risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 still present, employers must continue to monitor and follow new and evolving federal, state, and local guidance aimed at protecting the safety and health of employees.  OSHA’s new guidance contains “guiding principles” that OSHA recommends employers incorporate into their reopening plans.  In addition, the new guidance provides OSHA’s responses to frequently asked questions on testing and screening employees and identifies specific OSHA standards and requirements that are applicable to minimizing occupational exposure to COVID-19.  Because much of the new guidance deals with mitigation measures that many employers have already implemented, this article seeks to assist employers with understanding specific directives and concerns in the guidance that are new or may have been overlooked previously.
Continue Reading OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Guidance Answering Practical Questions on Returning to Work