Weekly COVID Testing of Employees: An Employee Benefits Perspective
Several agencies within the federal government recently announced that their employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19, and employees who refuse to be vaccinated must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Following that announcement, many private companies turned to the question of whether to adopt a similar policy. These policies can raise issues both under employment law (for example: wage-and-hour and reasonable accommodation issues) and under employee benefits law. The employment law issues are often significant enough to drive the design of these policies. Click below for a discussion of the employee benefits issues.
Federal COBRA Subsidies: Deadline and New Guidance
The federal government's subsidy of COBRA premiums (the Federal Subsidy) under the American Rescue Plan Act (the Act) ends on September 30, 2021. There are notices associated with the end of the subsidy, and those notices have a fast-approaching deadline. In addition, the IRS recently published new guidance about the Federal Subsidy—this new guidance supplements the FAQs the IRS issued in May. (Our previous alerts about the Federal Subsidy and the May FAQs are available here and here.) This alert provides a brief explanation of the notice requirements and summarizes the provisions of the new guidance that are most relevant to employers.
Education Roundup – Mandatory Vaccination Policies: Strategies for Returning to In-Person Learning Amid a COVID-19 Surge
As independent schools begin welcoming faculty, staff, and students back to campus, COVID-19 health and safety policies continue to be top of mind. For those schools that have not already implemented a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff, students, or both, the surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recent full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may sway such schools to adopt a COVID-19 vaccination policy now. Click below to read more about the employee benefits issues.
What is one piece of advice or takeaway message that your clients should be aware of right now?
Todd Horn: As the era of remote work ends for many businesses, employers need to watch their flank. Some employees developed informalities in the way they interact with co-workers over Zoom. Others experienced mental health struggles or lost their edge in social interaction skills. Some developed divisive political views that they wear on their sleeve. Some thirst for the attention they lost during this long period of isolation. These and other evolutions can create a risk for workplace friction and employer liability. As employees start rolling in, keep in mind that although your employees have changed, the laws that govern workplace behavior and interactions have not. A reminder is in order.
About the Labor and Employment Group
The bicoastal, 40-person Labor and Employment team at Venable provides guidance and support across the full spectrum of workplace dynamics – helping employers control costs, avoid disputes, and defend themselves when litigation arises. As co-editors of this newsletter, Michael Volpe and Doreen Martin invite you to share the content with your colleagues and reach out with any questions.