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MANAGING STAFF

A manager tries to hold it all together during Omnicron surge

By Lynne Curry “I’m overwhelmed,” the manager said when he called. “Senior management pressures us to maintain high levels of productivity, but nearly a fourth of our employees call in sick every morning. On our last all-manager Zoom call, our CEO said our productivity is down and made it clear we’re expected to handle our employees’ anxiety and get them refocused on their work.” “What about my stress? Every time an employee pokes his head in my door, I know I’ll hear a complaint or get handed a resignation. Omicron sent us all into a tailspin. I supervise employees who fear they risk infection every day they come to work. And I’m supposed to convince them to work harder? Do you have a magic bullet?” Supervisors in the vise You’re… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Supreme court blocks OSHA vaccine mandate

By Mike O’Brien In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion blocking OSHA’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees. The majority ruled on Jan. 13 that OSHA had exceeded its authority when it issued the vaccine mandate, concluding that OSHA has authority only “to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.” The court found that COVID presents a “universal risk” not limited to the workplace that is “no different from day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” Note: This decision addresses only the stay decisions… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Fear of COVID-19, demand for flexibility dominate return to the office

As the Delta variant continues to proliferate, 42 percent of workers are worried about returning to the workplace for fear of contracting COVID-19. This marks a substantial jump to Sept. 1 from June 2021 when only 24 percent had that concern. “With headlines about the rise of the Delta variant, breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, and an overburdened healthcare system in much of the country, COVID-19 concerns that were subsiding just two months ago have risen,” said Rebecca Ray, PhD, Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. Conducted in August by The Conference Board, the new survey captured the thoughts of more than 2,400 US workers on topics including return-to-work anxiety, factors driving them to pursue new job opportunities, opinions about remote work, and more. The survey… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Can you ask job applicants, “Are you vaccinated”?

By Lynne Curry You weathered the storm that blew through your workplace when you told your employees they needed to get vaccinated. You read the stories about Delta Air, Chevron, UPS, Goldman Sachs, and other major employers that made full vaccination a condition of employment.1 Like 59% of 1,000 small business owners surveyed, you plan to sidestep future problems by hiring only vaccinated employees.2 You’ve been pleasantly surprised by the many candidates who note on their applications they’ve been vaccinated. You wonder—is it okay to ask applicants who don’t supply their vaccination status if they’ve been vaccinated? You’re not alone in your hesitancy to make job offers when you don’t know a candidate’s vaccination status. According to ResumeBuilder.com, one-third of 1250 hiring managers surveyed automatically throw out resumes that don’t… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

All private-sector employers with 100 or more employees must mandate vaccination or a weekly negative COVID-19 test

By Mike O’Brien President Biden spoke from the White House Sept. 9 to announce his new Path Out of the Pandemic Plan. Among other things, President Biden has instructed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop rules that will require private-sector employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that their employees be vaccinated or receive a weekly negative COVID test. Employers who fail to do so will face fines. Some media outlets report that such fines could be up to $14,000 per violation. Along with President Biden’s spoken remarks, the White House also issued this statement: The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

OSHA updates guidance to track the latest CDC mask recommendations

By Mike O’Brien The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has updated its COVID workplace safety guidance entitled, Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. OSHA’s latest update on Aug. 13 “reflect[s] the July 27, 2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask and testing recommendations for fully vaccinated people.” Prior to this update, OSHA had stated that fully vaccinated employees did not need to wear masks and that COVID safety precautions really were focused on protecting only unvaccinated workers. However, that guidance has now changed in response to the highly contagious Delta variant. OSHA’s guidance includes “recommendations,” that do not carry the force of law and “creates no new legal obligations.” Still, OSHA’s counsel likely becomes a standard of reasonableness… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Are we making a mistake to require our employees to get vaccinated?

By Lynne Curry Question: Your recent post reported that many employers, including Facebook, Google, Tyson Foods, the Walt Disney Company, Houston Methodist Medical Center, United Airlines, Cisco, DoorDash, the Washington Post and Frontier Airlines, require all onsite employees to get vaccinated. That same day, we learned the Pentagon would require all active-duty troops to become vaccinated by Sept. 15. That, plus our history—having to shut down for two weeks when one of our employees tested for COVID, and the flack we were getting from vaccinated employees who have to wear masks because of a handful of unvaccinated employees, made us decide to have require all employees to get vaccinated. We didn’t expect the unglued reaction that came from our unvaccinated employees. We received repeated texts and emails from employees telling… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

COVID-19 delta variant: What managers need to do

By Lynne Curry You’ve heard. Now you need to act. If you had hoped the pandemic had faded away, you need to buckle down once more. The highly contagious Delta variant has caused illness and hospitalizations to rise. While it spreads primarily among the unvaccinated, no one is immune. Further, new variants could prove even more threatening. What does that mean to you as an manager? To you as an employee? What do offices need to do to provide their employees and clients with safe workplaces? Keep infections out of the workplace If you’ve let yourself relax your safety precautions, you need to tighten them again to keep infections out of your workplace. Encourage vaccination. Vaccination remains your and your employees’ best method for staying COVID-free. If you’re an employer,… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Masks making a comeback and vaccine mandates are on

By Mike O’Brien Masks make a comeback On July 27, 2021, the CDC issued new guidance for people that have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Previously, the CDC had said that fully vaccinated individuals did not need to wear masks in public. However, largely in response to the spread of the Delta variant, the CDC now recommends wearing a mask indoors in public if you are in “an area of substantial or high transmission.” The CDC has provided a “county tracker” tool for determining what areas have “substantial or high transmission.” A large portion of the State of Utah appears to be in the high transmission range. So far, OSHA hasn’t weighed in on the CDC’s updated guidance, but when the CDC has issued mask guidance in the past, OSHA… . . . read more

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

What about guns in cars in the parking lot?

By Lynne Curry Question: Our office takes threats of violence seriously. We prohibit any act or threat of violence by or against any client, staffer, supplier, or visitor. Our policy applies to all employees, whether on or off company property. We specifically state that we prohibit any use or possession, whether legal or illegal, of weapons on company property or while on business for our practice. In our rural practice some of our employees use their personal vehicles for office business. We pay them $200 a month to compensate them. Can we enforce the no firearms policy for their vehicle while travelling for our office? Answer: According to Perkins Coie Senior Counsel Michael O’Brien, “Your company can enforce a no firearms policy while your employees are on company time. Because your… . . . read more


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