Over the past fifteen months, many countries have introduced creative new approaches to address the economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. As employees continue to work remotely and employers reconsider whether employees must return to the workplace at all, some jurisdictions have implemented measures to accommodate the needs and interests of both employers and employees in the ever-changing and evolving employment environment. Luxembourg is an example of a country that has sought to develop solutions with its neighboring nations to ease the economic burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers.
On June 17, 2021, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards (Cal/OSHA) Board voted to re-adopt its COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards (ETS) incorporating changes Cal/OSHA noticed on June 11, 2021 (revised ETS).
The revised ETS (which will make changes to California Labor Code Sections 3205 through 3205.4) are aligned with the latest guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The revised ETS are also aligned with Governor Newsom’s guidelines to reopen California as of June 15, 2021. Following Cal/OSHA’s vote, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order on June 17, 2021, enabling the revised ETS to take effect without the normal 10-day review period by the Office of Administrative Law.
Colorado’s Supreme Court found that Colorado employees receiving vacation time must be paid out accrued but unused time when their employment is terminated. In Carmen Nieto v. Clark’s Market, Inc., the state Supreme Court held that if an employer chooses to provide vacation pay, all accrued but unused vacation pay must be paid to employees upon termination and that no agreement to the contrary will be enforced.
While public health leaders continue to wrestle with vaccine hesitancy, businesses are wrestling with employee challenges to COVID-19 vaccination mandates. This Saturday marked a win for private employers after a Texas District Court tossed a lawsuit brought by over 100 hospital employees claiming they were subjected unlawfully to a COVID-19 vaccination policy as a condition of continued employment. Although the plaintiffs’ counsel has said they plan to appeal the decision, the order provides helpful precedent for other organizations mulling such vaccination mandates.
In the past 15 months, employers have juggled many new and unique situations. Indeed, employers have been navigating their way through complex federal, state and local COVID-19 guidelines, while their employees have faced their own challenges related to work, family, and possible health concerns. As more employees return to the office, it may be a good time for employers to conduct a mid-year compliance check-up to identify any areas that need attention as COVID-19 mitigation protocols wane. Here are a few areas that Illinois employers should consider reviewing.
On Thursday, June 10, 2021, OSHA issued its first Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) in 38 years, providing long-awaited guidance for health care settings that deal directly with patients suspected or confirmed to be COVID-19 positive. This ETS will remain in effect until a permanent standard is in place or OSHA determines there is no longer a grave danger to the covered workforce.