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SAFETY

Workplace active shooter: Run, hide, fight

By Lynne Curry It’s not your imagination. There are more incidents of violence across our country than ever before. It doesn’t matter where you live. Nor that you don’t believe it could happen in your town, your workplace or at your kids’ school. You’ve seen the news reports. The violence in workplaces including offices, schools, restaurants, train stations, malls, and churches. Innocence can’t save you. It might get you killed. Would you know what to do if  someone started shooting? Knowing what to do could keep you alive. Suppose you hear something odd. At first, you think it’s a car backfiring. Then you hear the same sound again and again. Gunshots, repeated in rapid succession. Fear grips you. You hear others screaming. You struggle to catch a breath. You haven’t seen a… . . . read more

DRUGS & ALCOHOL

High at work: Anyone else smell that?

By Paul Edwards More often than you would think, we get calls from managers wondering what they can do about someone whom they think is impaired at work. When that happens, we immediately go into crisis control mode because, well, impairment at work is never acceptable. In this article, we are going to discuss impairment and odors from the perspective of marijuana legalization. From job candidates showing up to interviews smelling like a skunk to employees showing up to their shift distracted with bloodshot eyes, knowing how to handle an employee’s potential marijuana use has only gotten more complicated. Currently, marijuana legalization is in limbo between state versus federal government. While many states have moved to legalize or decriminalize its use, marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug under… . . . read more

EMPLOYER ALERT

Find the CDC’s new (relaxed) masking recommendations for your county

You can find the new COVID-19 masking recommendations your area on a map just released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Recognizing that a substantial portion of the population has been vaccinated or has acquired some level of natural immunity, the agency has turned its focus to “protecting those at highest risk of severe outcomes” and minimizing the strain on healthcare systems. So on Feb. 25  the CDC released a color-coded map of all U.S. counties, with green indicating low levels of transmission, yellow indicating medium levels, and orange indicating high levels. A link to the map and related recommendations is here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html CDC advises that masks are no longer necessary in green counties (those with low levels of transmission). In yellow counties (medium transmission), CDC recommends that those… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW

Where we are on vaccines and masks in the workplace

Vaccine roundup The Biden Administration, through Executive Orders and various agencies, has adopted four separate vaccine mandates for (1) employers with 100+ employees (the OSHA ETS), (2) federal contractors, (3) federal employees and onsite contractors, and (4) healthcare employers who receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements (the CMS mandate).  Except for the CMS mandate, all these various vaccination mandates have either been rejected or stayed by the courts. On Jan. 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the CMS mandate. OSHA mask guidance On Aug. 23, 2021, OSHA updated its workplace safety guidelines to recommend that employers require all employees–regardless of vaccination status–to wear masks when indoors and not physically distanced.  That guidance has not changed since it was added in August 2021.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

4 ways to prioritize staff mental health

Mental distress has long been a hidden issue in the workplace. Employees are often unaware of the resources—if any—available to help them, while employers may be unaware of the effects mental distress has on safety and their bottom lines. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has brought this issue to the forefront for many employers. Over 40% of Americans report experiencing increases in mental distress due to the pandemic, and over 85% say that work impacts their mental health. Employers are now recognizing the effects of employee mental distress, including increased absenteeism, negative impacts on productivity and profits, and an increase in healthcare costs. Encouragingly, organizations see a return of $4 for every dollar invested in mental health treatment in improved health and productivity. Supporting treatment alone, however, is not enough. Employers… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

OSHA emergency vaccine mandate withdrawn and forced arbitration may end for workplace sexual harassment

By Mike O’Brien After a recent United States Supreme Court decision prohibited it, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officially announced the withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccination and testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), effective Jan. 26, 2022. According to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “OSHA’s withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccination and testing ETS, which required employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers were vaccinated against COVID-19 or underwent weekly testing, nullifies employers’ obligations under the standard. The withdrawal would also discontinue the OSHA ETS case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit because OSHA is unlikely to pursue merit finding for a withdrawn regulation. However, employers must continue to comply with state or local government vaccination and/or testing requirements, which are not… . . . read more

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

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

TOOL

Model Code of Conduct for Virtual Meetings

Far from eliminating workplace harassment, telecommuting has only caused it to morph into digital forms. As a result, law offices and other employers need to tweak their harassment policies to deal with the new face of harassment. The virtual meeting, in particular, has become the digital age version of the holiday office party where employees feel emboldened to do and say things they wouldn’t dream of doing and saying to co-workers in-person. How do you crack down on this behavior? The starting point is to implement a Code of Conduct Virtual Meetings. Here’s a template you can adapt.

COMPLIANCE

How to give your analog workplace harassment policy a digital makeover

One of the only nice things about the pandemic is the relief it’s provided from workplace harassment. After all, employees are far less vulnerable to workplace harassment when they work from home. Right? Absolutely wrong!!! Since the pandemic began: More than 4 in 10 U.S. workers (41 percent) reported that they’ve been subjected to some form of digital harassment (Pew Research); Nearly half (45 percent) of women experiencing sexual harassment say it happened remotely (Rights of Women, UK and Wales (“ROW”)); 23 percent of women reporting that they’ve been harassed say the problem has actually gotten worse since they began working from home (ROW); and More than 7 in 10 (73 percent) of victims say they don’t think their employer is doing enough to protect them from remote harassment (ROW)…. . . . read more


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