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COMPLIANCE

What, if anything, does OSHA require you to do to protect telecommuters?

While telecommuting is nothing new, the imperative for using it has never been greater. In addition to all the cost-saving, work-life balance, recruiting and hiring advantages, letting employees work from home during a pandemic has become a vital infection control measure. But it also poses significant compliance challenges, particularly in the realm of OSHA. After all, how are you supposed to meet your duty to protect the health and safety of office employees if they work from home at a location beyond your physical control? This article will provide the answer. Spoiler alert: OSHA requirements don’t generally extend to employees working from home; but you still can and should take some basic steps to ensure their health and safety. OSHA & telecommuters The Occupational Safety and Health Act (Section 4(a))… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

COVID, opioids and payroll taxes on HR radar

By Mike O’Brien bio Applicants, testing, and screening The EEOC has said you cannot test applicants for COVID-19 until after a conditional job offer. Fine, makes sense. What about taking temperatures? You can take a temperature of visitors to your business/office to make sure they are not bringing COVID-19 with them. In fact, you may have an OSHA duty to do so to protect your workers from the pandemic. What about applicants visiting your office to apply to interview—can you subject them to the same temperature screening as all other visitors? Logic would say yes; but the EEOC guidance says no, you can only take an applicant’s temperature after a conditional job offer. Yet, a visiting applicant with COVID-19 could turn your office into a virus hot spot, thus attracting… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE QUIZ

Can racial discrimination be proven with circumstantial evidence alone? 

SITUATION An equipment repair technician who also happens to be the office’s only African American employee endures racial abuse at the hands of his supervisor and co-workers. He complains to management and is warned to “stay in his lane.” Shortly thereafter, somebody leaves a noose on his desk. It’s the last straw. The technician claims he was subject to systemic racial discrimination and files an EEOC complaint. The office closes ranks and vehemently denies the charges and nobody is willing to testify on the technician’s behalf. Without witnesses to corroborate his story, the technician is left to rely on the following evidence: Pictures of the noose on his desk; His own testimony, which is credible and reliable; and The fact that the manager and supervisor’s denials lack credibility and consistency…. . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

How to create and implement a mandatory face mask policy at your law office

What began as a CDC guideline is evolving into a legal duty with more than 20 states and countless municipalities across the country adopting laws requiring individuals to wear masks or face coverings in enclosed indoor public spaces. As a result, law offices must adopt and enforce mandatory mask policies at their facilities. While mask requirements vary slightly by jurisdiction, here are the 10 basic elements they should include. Defining our terms  This analysis is about non-medical face masks that people at medium at low risk levels are required to wear, as opposed to N95 particulate respirators and more elaborate respiratory equipment, eye and face shields other personal protection equipment (PPE) required for health workers and others with a higher risk of infection. Policy statement Start by stating that all… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Here’s new guidance on COVID-19 and FLSA

By Mike O’Brien bio For managers in charge of HR, the so-called lazy days of summer have been anything but lazy, as they strive to adapt to the COVID era and stay up to date on seemingly constant new government guidances. The Department of Labor has provided more information for employers regarding pandemic-related wage and hour issues. Specifically, the agency answered questions about hazard pay, FLSA’s overtime and minimum wage exemptions, and what time is compensable with respect to pandemic-related telework arrangements: DOL notes that hazard pay is not required under FLSA, but may be required under state or local laws, collective bargaining agreements, or company policies. DOL makes clear that taking leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will not jeopardize an employee’s exempt status under FLSA’s… . . . read more

TECHNOLOGY

Take advantage of case management software benefits

By Elizabeth Miller  bio Case management software is now so popular in law firms that it is rare to hear of a firm that does not have it. The problem is that even though firms have the software, they don’t take advantage of all the benefits. Managing incoming leads and cases Give your law firm an advantage over other firms by providing potential clients with an exceptional experience without the need for face to face interaction. Offer your clients e-signature to sign retainer agreements and other documents from anywhere. Digitize your client intake with forms making it efficient and convenient to sign on with your firm. Centralized case details The great thing about case management software is that all client information, communications, time entries and notes are in one place. … . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Use contact logging to ensure law office employees practice social distancing

Managing a law office compliance program in the age of COVID-19 poses new and unprecedented challenges. One of the biggest and most important is ensuring that employees and the persons they interact with on the job follow social distancing requirements. To succeed in this effort, you must have the capability to track actual encounters. One possibility is digital technology, the use of apps, wearables and other so called “contact tracing” solutions that monitor encounters in real time. But in addition to being highly privacy-invasive, these solutions may be too costly and cumbersome for many offices. So, you may want to consider using this cheaper, easier and less intrusive manual method instead. What’s at stake Without a vaccine or treatment, social distancing, i.e., keeping at least six feet away from other… . . . read more

Employment Law Update

COVID-19, discrimination, DACA, and immigration developments

By Mike O’Brien bio EEOC says no to COVID-19 antibody testing: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently (6/17/20) updated its COVID-19 guidance to indicate that employers should not be requiring employees to submit to antibody testing. Here is the verbatim Q&A (found at EEOC Guidance): Question: (A.7.): CDC said in its Interim Guidelines that antibody test results “should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.” In light of this CDC guidance, under the ADA may an employer require antibody testing before permitting employees to re-enter the workplace? Answer: No. An antibody test constitutes a medical examination under the ADA. In light of CDC’s Interim Guidelines that antibody test results “should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace,” an antibody test at this time… . . . read more

Compliance

How to create a COVID-19 exposure control plan

For as long as COVID-19 remains a threat, businesses—both essential and nonessential—won’t be allowed to re-open and remain open unless they implement a plan to control workplace infection risks. The challenges posed by COVID-19 are unprecedented and unique and you probably won’t find any great templates in your current policy folders and binders. As a result, you’ll need to build your plan from the ground up. Here’s a step-by-step strategy and Model COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan containing the necessary elements that you can use to accomplish that objective. The Exposure Control Plan & Why You Need It An exposure control plan is a set of measures to protect workers, clients, contractors, visitors and other people at your workplace against exposure to COVID-19 infection and ensure compliance with your obligations under… . . . read more

Tool: Model COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan

Regulators have made it clear that workplaces must implement written plans to control COVID-19 exposure risks at the site. Here’s a Model Plan template your office can adapt that provides for the necessary protections.


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