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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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Model Substance Abuse and Fitness for Duty Policy

Workplace substance abuse remains a major challenge for law offices. Although sound in principle, the traditional zero tolerance policy is ill-suited to the legal complexities of the modern world. This is especially true in states that have legalized marijuana. You can still take a clear and firm line on employee drug and alcohol abuse for the purpose of health and safety. But the policy also has to exhibit finesse and sensitivity to legal subtleties. One of the best ways to create an enforceable policy is to base it not on the legality of substance abuse but the undisputable fact that it renders employees unfit for duty to the detriment of safety. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt.

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Model waiver of COVID-19 infection liability sign to post at your law office

As long as COVID-19 remains a threat, you run the risk of being sued by clients, vendors, guests and other visitors (“visitors”) who claim they contracted the virus at your office facility as a result of your inadequate safety measures. One way to limit liability is by conspicuously posting a sign at the entry of your facility indicating visitors’ agreement to waive their rights to sue you for COVID-19 infections by entering the office. Although there’s no guarantee that a court would enforce such a waiver, the Model Sign below uses fairly conservative language that has been found to be enforceable in other situations. Caveat: The inclusion of the phrase purporting to insulate you against your own negligence in Sections 3 and 4 is fairly risky and you may want… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Using waivers to avoid getting sued for COVID-19 infections

In these times of pandemic, signs and forms like this purporting to shield the owner of a facility against liability have become a fixture in workplaces and other facilities. You might even be using them at your own office. The idea is to notify clients, vendors and other visitors (which, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to collectively as “visitors”) that they’re entering the facility at their own risk and in so doing, waiving their rights to sue the owner for any illness or injury they suffer while on the premises. Of course, that includes COVID-19 infection. It seems like a simple, cost-effective way to limit liability risks to visitors who may claim they got infected while they were at your office. But will it work? The answer may depend, in… . . . read more


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