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WORKPLACE SAFETY

Mandatory COVID vaccination: new guidance & update

By Lynne Curry bio Can employers require their employees to receive COVID-vaccinations? While vaccination is one of an employer’s best tools for preventing COVID-19 outbreaks at their worksites, requiring employees to be vaccinated and disciplining them if they refuse comes with legal risks. Although the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s December 2020 guidelines stated that employers could implement and enforce mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for certain jobs and with certain exceptions1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that recipients of vaccines under an “emergency use authorization” (which includes the current COVID vaccines) must be informed that they have the option to accept or refuse the vaccination. For more detail on this federal agency contradiction, see https://workplacecoachblog.com/2021/01/covid-vaccination-update-in-light-of-the-vaccines-emergency-use-authorization-status/ “The current problem,” says Perkins Coie Senior Counsel Michael O’Brien, “is that many employees… . . . read more

TOOL

Voluntary COVID-19 vaccination policy

It is important for you to ensure that your law office workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, clients and others at your facility. But what if employees neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require workers to be vaccinated Option 2: Encourage workers to be vaccinated voluntarily Here’s a Model Policy you can use to implement Option 2.

TOOL

Model Social Distancing Policy

As the pandemic drags on, essential businesses that remain open must be scrupulous to ensure employees maintain social distancing both at and away from the workplace. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt to accomplish that objective in accordance with your specific circumstances and the terms of the latest public health guidelines in effect in your state or city.

TOOL

Worker’s acknowledgement of decision to decline COVID-19 vaccination

It is important for you to ensure that law office workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, patients and others at your facility. But what if workers neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require workers to be vaccinated Option 2: Encourage workers to be vaccinated voluntarily If you select Option 2, require workers to sign a form acknowledging that they were offered the vaccine and voluntarily declined to accept it and list the reasons for doing so. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt.

TOOL

Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy

It is important to ensure your law office workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, clients and others at your office. But what if employees neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require workers to be vaccinated Option 2: Encourage workers to be vaccinated voluntarily Here’s a Model Policy you can use to implement Option 1.

MANAGING STAFF

Disciplining employees for not following COVID-19 restrictions when they are off-duty

Picture this: COVID-19 cases are surging. Your state or city is in full lockdown mode. That means, among other things, that outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people aren’t allowed. So, it disturbs you to turn on the Sunday news and see hundreds of people crowding together to demonstrate right in the middle of downtown. And then it gets personal. You recognize one of those demonstrators. She’s one of your office’s employees! What the heck is she doing there?! And, gulp, you also notice that she’s not wearing a mask! Now what? Can you discipline the employee for participating in the illegal demonstration and not wearing a mask? Off-duty conduct, employee discipline and COVID-19 The statement that what employees do when they’re away from work is none of your business… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Can you require staff to get the COVID-19 vaccination?

Although it’s clearly a positive development for the world at large, the almost miraculous emergence of a vaccine for COVID-19 in less than a year poses legal challenges for. The Question: Can employers require their workers to get the vaccine? Bottom Line on Top: The answer is probably but not 100 percent certainly YES. And even if a mandatory vaccine policy is justifiable, it’s also subject to strict restrictions.  Legal justification for mandatory vaccination policies Even though the COVID-19 situation is new and unprecedented, we can still discern the boundaries with regard to employers’ rights to demand that workers get vaccinated. Specifically, we know that OSHA, courts and arbitrators have historically upheld mandatory flu vaccination policies (as well as their slightly less restrictive cousin, the vaccination-or-mask policy requiring all employees… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Has OSHA done enough to enforce COVID-19 safety rules?

Even after the election and swearing in of the new President, federal government response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains a politically charged issue. One area of contention involves whether OSHA has done enough to protect workers exposed to the virus. On Jan. 8, the agency issued a statistical report documenting its COVID-19 enforcement efforts starting with the beginning of the pandemic and running through Dec. 31, 2020. Employer liability for COVID-19 violations under OSHA laws Nobody disputes that under OSHA, law offices and other employers have a duty to protect workers from risk of COVID-19 infection. What may be less clear, is the source of that duty. Neither the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act) nor the regulations say anything about COVID-19 or, with a few exceptions, infectious illnesses in… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

EEOC issues COVID-19 vaccine guidance

By Mike O’Brien bio On Dec. 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 guidance to include a section devoted to vaccinations. The EEOC’s guidance answers these and other COVID-19 vaccine questions: “Is asking or requiring an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination a disability-related inquiry?” “If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a disability?” “If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief?” “What happens if an employer cannot… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Expect a change of course under Biden for retirement accounts and immigration

By Mike O’Brien bio Experts predict that the Biden administration will differ from Trump’s in several respects. Mr. Biden supports ending upfront tax breaks for contributing to traditional 401(k) plans and replacing them with flat-tax credits. Current tax benefits for retirement savings provide “upper-income families with a much stronger tax break for saving and a limited benefit for middle-class and other workers with lower earnings,” according to Biden’s campaign website. “The Biden plan will equalize benefits across the income scale, so that low- and middle-income workers will also get a tax break when they put money away for retirement.” The Biden administration is also expected to implement automatic 401(k) enrollment, multiemployer pension plan relief (providing federally-backed loans to underfunded multiemployer defined benefit pension plans), and adjust social security payroll taxes. Mr…. . . . read more


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