By: Eva Zelson
On: December 27, 2021
What is the Status of Mandatory Covid Vaccines for Employees in the New Year?
Federal guidelines and laws implemented this year spell out which specific industries and businesses will need to comply with COVID-19 vaccine mandates moving into the new year. The biggest piece of employment law that will affect businesses is the United States OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard. This law requires that employers who have 100 or more employees implement a mandatory vaccination policy, or that they also adopt a policy that requires employees to submit to regular COVID-19 testing and to wear a face covering instead of being vaccinated.
Another employment law on the books is the White House’s executive order 14042. This executive order targets federal contractors to ensure they are also adhering to COVID safety guidelines and protocols. Federal employees are already required to be vaccinated, but contractors were not required to be vaccinated previously. This executive order ensures that government contractors and subcontractors are either vaccinated or also submitting to regular tests and safety protocols.
Additionally, the COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule requires workers in the healthcare industry to receive at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the 5th of December of 2021, and that staff must be fully vaccinated by January 4th, 2022. However, there are exemptions for certain employees based on medical issues or religious exemptions. In addition, some states have implemented employment laws that require exemptions for religious reasons or to require additional sick leave for employees who have contracted COVID-19.
Are There Any Employment Law Issues Stemming From Employees Working Remotely?
First and foremost, the location where employees are working from can affect their pay. Different states have different laws addressing what the minimum pay rate is for workers, as well as the type of benefits they may receive. If you do have minimum wage workers working remotely, ensuring that you are meeting the required pay rate for their work is important.
Another major issue is tracking overtime and other timekeeping issues. Under federal employment laws, employers are required to pay one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked past the standard 40-hour work week. This can be extremely difficult to keep track of for employees working remotely. Utilizing electronic timekeeping software can help by requiring employees to log all their worked hours and ensure that breaks are being taken regularly.
Additionally, discrimination issues are also still relevant in the remote workplace. Even when the workers are remote, it is important to ensure that employees are not facing issues based on their sex, race, color, religion, or any disability. In addition, some employers may face issues with workers’ compensation laws. Although work may be remote, that does not mean that employees cannot be injured on the job. This means that your business may be legally responsible, so ensuring compliance with these laws is a must.
What has Happened in 2021 Regarding the NLRB and What can We Expect in 2022?
Previously, the Trump-era National Labor Relations Board reversed an Obama-era employment law decision that held that multiple employers could claim joint-employment over an employee if they had a contractual right to control any condition of their employment. In 2021, the new administration reversed the Trump-era board decision. While this does not mean immediate changes to day-to-day operations, over the next year there will be efforts by the NLRB to revise these rules, which will likely result in rules that have significant implications for businesses that participate in joint employment.
What New Employment Laws Take Effect in PA and NJ in the New Year?
There is one new employment law taking effect in New Jersey in 2022, titled New Jersey AB 5892 (SB 3922), addressing employee misclassification. It ensures that companies that misclassify employees to avoid paying insurance premiums will be violating the Insurance Fraud Protection Act and will pay $5,000 for the first violation and additional fines for other violations.
In Pennsylvania, there is one new employment law taking effect in 2022, Philadelphia Bill Number 200625. This law prohibits employers from requiring potential new hires from undergoing drug testing for the presence of marijuana as a condition of their employment. However, it does not apply to public safety workers, federal contractors, caregivers, and commercial drivers.
Contact Zeff Law Firm If These Issues Will Affect you in the Workplace in the New Year
As we enter into the New Year, we anticipate that there will continue to be numerous employment law questions about workplace safety, mandatory vaccines, and other COVID-related precautions that employers must take. Zeff Law Firm is here to help you answer these questions and have a thorough understanding of your rights. Contact us today to discuss any of these issues you may be having in your workplace.