On July 29, 2021, the Biden administration announced that federal employees and onsite contractors must attest to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or they will be required to wear a mask on the job and physically distance, comply with at least a weekly screening testing requirement, and restrict official travel. Private employers are encouraged to adopt similar safety protocols; such protocols will likely be required for federal contractors. Specifically, President Biden noted in his remarks that he was “directing [his] administration to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors. If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated.”
The second quarter of 2021 continues the trend of increasing regulation of the workplace by state and local governments. Several new and revised state and local workplace regulations became effective or will soon be effective, including a trend towards a broader inclusiveness in leave laws. This update reviews these new requirements and recaps Q2 state and local employment law developments to help you and your organization stay in compliance.
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.
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.
UPDATE: Cal/OSHA Withdraws June 3, 2021 revised ETS. In a special meeting held on the evening of June 9, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Board met to consider the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health regarding masking. The Board voted unanimously to withdraw the revisions to Cal/OSHA’s revised ETS that they had voted to approve on June 3, 2021, and that were set to go into effect on June 15, 2021 (pending approval from the Office of Administrative Law). In a press release, Cal/OSHA stated that it will review the new mask guidance, bring any recommended revisions to the Board and that the Board could consider new revisions at a future meeting, perhaps as early as the regular meeting on June 17, 2021. In the meantime, the Cal/OSHA’s ETS adopted in November of 2020 will continue to remain in effect. Faegre Drinker will continue to monitor and provide insights with respect to Cal/OSHA’s revised ETS as well as other COVID-19-related topics. Insights will be updated on the firm’s COVID-19 Resource Center.
On Monday, May 17, 2021, on the heels of the CDC relaxing mask and distancing restrictions for fully vaccinated people, OSHA revisited its previous guidance recommending face coverings in the workplace. While the agency noted that it is still evaluating the new guidelines, OSHA provisionally advised employers to refer to the CDC for workforce safety measures for fully vaccinated workers.