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Cal/OSHA publishes new employee rules

More changes still likely

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In November of 2020, Cal/OSHA adopted emergency COVID-related regulations to prevent the spread of COVID in the workplace. Six months later, on June 4, 2021, it announced changes to these restrictions that it will likely formally adopt in the next few days. These restrictions apply to employers and their employees.

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Congress passed the American Rescue Plan in March of 2021 to extend the paid leave tax credits available to employers with less than 500 employees through September 30, 2021. While employers are no longer required by federal law to provide the leave, if this leave is voluntarily provided (or, provided pursuant to a state or local mandate), employers can continue to obtain tax credits for the maximum amount allowed under federal law for leave taken through September 30, 2021. Please note that the amount paid to the employee may not exactly match the tax credit available if the state or local order requires paying out such leave at a different amount than the federal maximum tax credit.

COVID vaccine mandates

Not recommended at this time

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As we transition back to the “normal” times before March 2020, many employers are wondering whether they can mandate that their employees be vaccinated for COVID. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) have released guidance, stating that subject to certain religious and medical exemptions, the answer is yes. However, we do not recommend employers implement a vaccine mandate, and instead recommend employers take a more relaxed and voluntary approach to obtaining high rates of vaccination among their employees. We have provided the following Frequently Asked Questions and answers.

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There are many reasons why employers may want or need to know whether their employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19: the safety of staff and customers, a desire to modify mask rules, or even legal mandates. As a general rule, employers may ask employees for proof that they have received a COVID vaccination, but there are several factors that should be considered if and when doing so. These include ensuring the questions are asked correctly, that privacy measures are in place, and that employee information is safeguarded.

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On March 19, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law an extension of paid COVID-19 sick leave. This type of leave is in addition to other types of sick leave generally provided by employers. While the law passed in March, it is retroactive back to January 1, 2021 as of March 29, 2021. We have provided the following Frequently Asked Questions and answers.

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On February 27, 2021 and March 6, 2021 the House and Senate, respectively, passed versions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, both of which extend the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act’s (FFCRA) tax credit for paid leave related to COVID-19. While the FFCRA mandatory leave provision expired December 31, 2020, Congress previously extended the employer tax credits for voluntarily providing such leave to March 31, 2021. There are differences between the House and Senate versions of the American Rescue Plan Act that must be reconciled, but if the extension survives that process it will mean qualified employers may take a credit for paid leave under the same terms as in the FFCRA.

“Exposed” to COVID

When do you need to take action?

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By now employers are familiar with what to do if an employee reports that they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have tested positive for the disease. However, do employers need to take action even if the employee has merely been “exposed” to COVID-19? The answer is yes, and this article covers what qualifies as an “exposure” and what you must do.

Employment cases affecting businesses

2020 — looking back and moving forward, Part 6

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Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, California courts have continued to issue important decisions affecting the rights and duties of all businesses in California. Below are summaries of some of the most important cases that are likely to affect how businesses should operate throughout the state.