Latest COVID Updates Affecting Employers

Posted by Christy Putnam on February 23, 2022 at 10:52 AM

Covid 19 UpdatesThere probably isn’t a person anywhere who can say the coronavirus pandemic has not in some way affected them. I think we are all a little - or, more realistically, a lot - tired of it. While we might wish we could bury our heads under our pillows and not come out until it’s over, employers and HR professionals alike know that this is not a realistic response. We must continue to keep up with all the latest news and required enforcements and to make decisions that will keep our employees, their families, our customers, and businesses as safe as possible. To help, we've compiled the following updates. Hopefully, some of the resources below will help make everyone's work life a little easier as we get through this together.

Oregon Mask Mandate

***UPDATE Effective 02/24/2022*** OHA announced an update to the original March 31 mask mandate timeline. Oregon will no longer require masks for indoor public spaces or schools effective March 19, 2022. Hospitalizations have declined significantly, resulting in the decision to lift the mask mandate earlier than anticipated. The Emergency Declaration is still expected to be lifted by Governor Brown on April 1, 2022.

Washington Mask Mandate

Governor Inslee announced Washington has targeted Mach 21, 2022 to end the indoor mask mandate at most venues, assuming cases in that state continue the downward trend. The healthcare system will continue to be monitored in order to adjust decisions in relation to actual circumstances.

Do you have employees based in California?

If you answered yes, on February 9, 2022, Governor Newsom signed SB 114 into law, which provides Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) effective February 19, 2022. This will apply to employers with 26+ employees. Employees will be entitled to up to 80 hours of COVID sick leave from January 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022, divided into two 40-hour banks of leave. The first 40-hour leave bank is for the employee that tests positive for COVID-19 or if a family member under the employee’s care tests positive. The second 40-hour bank is available for other qualifying reasons. Employers are required to conspicuously post the 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave model notice in the workplace as well as distribute it to employees working remotely. This notice provides additional detail on the “other qualifying reasons”. For additional information regarding this regulation please visit the California Department of Industrial Relations website. This is a valuable resource for employers with questions.

Information Regarding At-home COVID Tests Employees Should be Aware of

Employees can get up to 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests per household by ordering online at COVIDtests.gov. This website reports that orders usually ship in 7-12 days.

Beginning January 15, 2022, the Biden Administration announced and issued guidance that private insurers would be required to cover the cost of rapid at-home COVID-19 tests purchased over the counter. This includes up to 8 authorized rapid tests per member per month. This requirement applies to private insurers and does not apply to Medicaid or Medicare. Employees should be encouraged to reach out to their medical insurer for the process and details.

Supreme Court Overturns OSHA Regulations

After a Supreme Court ruling, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) withdrew its emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring large employers (with 100+ employees) to ensure employees are vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. OSHA has shifted their focus and continues to work on a proposal for a permanent standard going through the formal rulemaking process with a notice-and-comment period. The permanent standard cannot look identical to the ETS, so it may be more industry focused. Regardless, private employers still have the options of requiring employees be vaccinated or tested.

These are just some of the current hot topics in relation to the COVID updates. We will continue to provide the latest news as your trusted technology advisor. Please subscribe to B/P Impressions to receive our latest blog content and review recommended technology solutions to help keep your organization compliant.

Topics: Human Resources, HR Policies, COVID-19, workplace safety

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