U.K. Launches Fully Digital Application Process for BN(O) Visas

If you are a British National (Overseas) citizen from Hong Kong, you and your family members can apply for a British National (Overseas) visa, which will entitle you to live, work and study in the U.K. The visa application process launched at the end of January, and the U.K. has since launched a smartphone app that allows you to apply for the visa digitally. We dive into the details of the BN(O) visa and the application process in this alert.

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Navigating the American Rescue Plan’s Employment-Related Provisions

On March 12, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) was signed into law, providing an estimated $1.9 trillion stimulus package to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the ARP’s key provisions include a number of employment-related sections that build upon prior legislation to create a scaffold of employer obligations and worker entitlements arising from the pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy.

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Summary of New California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave – What Employers Need to Know

On March 19, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 95, which extends and expands employer requirements to provide supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) to employees impacted by COVID-19. SB 95 goes into effect on March 29, 2021, (i.e., 10 days after being signed by Gov. Newsom) and adds sections 248.2 and 248.3 to the California Labor Code.

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New Federal OSHA COVID-19 National Emphasis Program and Enforcement Response Plan Targets Industries and Activities for Inspection

On March 12, 2021, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) designed to “significantly reduce or eliminate worker exposures to [COVID-19]” by targeting specific “high-hazard industries or work tasks” with greater frequency of close contact between workers for on-site inspections, outreach, and compliance assistance related to COVID-19 prevention and response measures. While federal OSHA’s NEP technically does not apply to state plans, OSHA is strongly encouraging them to do so; and state plans must submit within 60 days a notice of intent indicating whether they intend to adopt same or similar initiatives.

The NEP specifically targets certain industries based on public enforcement data, such as complaints, inspections and COVID-19-related violations, where the data reflects that workers are expected to perform tasks associated with exposure to COVID-19. The NEP lists numerous “primary” targets, which are divided up as either healthcare or non-healthcare employers.

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Can California Employers Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine?

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has updated its COVID-19 FAQs and has issued its long-awaited guidance regarding employers mandating COVID-19 vaccines.

As a preliminary matter, the DFEH explained that it is not providing guidance on whether or to what extent an employer should mandate vaccination within its workforce. Rather, the DFEH stated that its guidance/FAQs are to address how employers comply with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) if employers require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with an FDA-approved vaccine.

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Minnesota Employers Are Given the Green Light to Return to the Office, Subject to Continued Limitations

On March 12, 2021, nearly one year to the day after Minnesota declared a peacetime emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Order 21-11, which rolls back certain restrictive measures aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

Chief among the changes is a relaxation of the mandate that all employees who are able to work remotely must do so. Commencing on March 25, 2020, pursuant to Executive Order 20-20, Minnesota employees have been required to work remotely whenever they are able. This requirement will cease on April 14, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Employers are now strongly encouraged to allow Minnesota-based employees to work from home when they are able to do so. Employers are also strongly encouraged to implement reasonable accommodations for those employees who are at-risk for infection or who reside with a household member with an underlying medical condition that has not yet become eligible for vaccination. This softens obligations previously set forth in Executive Orders 20-54 and 20-55 in light of the expanded access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

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