On April 21, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to adopt the proposed revisions to the current COVID emergency temporary standards (ETS). Updates include exposure to close contacts without symptons, regardless of vaccination status, do not have to quarantine if they get tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask around others for 10 days. Additionally, those who have had COVID in the past 90 days do not have to quarantine or get tested unless symptoms develop, but should wear a mask around others for 10 days.
Florida Makes It Challenging to Conduct Training
The Florida “Stop W.O.K.E. Act,” which stands for “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees” isn’t just a law limiting teachings in schools – it has employer ramifications. It is set to become law effective July 1, 2022, but a pending lawsuit could change that.
Assuming it goes into effect, employers with 15+ employees are barred from subjecting an employee to workplace training that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels the employee to believe” certain concepts constitutes unlawful discrimination.
As an amendment to the Florida Civil Rights Act, the law says that it is discrimination to subject a person, as a condition of employment, to training that endorses any of the following concepts:
- Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
- An individual’s moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
- Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin.
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the individual played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.
- Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin to oppress members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.
To be clear, the law does not prohibit discussion of the above concepts with respect to employer training so long as such training or instruction is given in an “objective manner without the endorsement of such concepts.”
Virginia Paid Leave Law
Employers may voluntarily purchase insurance under Virginia’s Private Family Leave Insurance Act to replace a percentage or portion of a qualifying employee’s income loss due to:
- The birth of a child or adoption of a child;
- The placement of a child with the employee for foster care;
- The care of a family member of the employee who has a serious health condition; or
- Circumstances arising out of the fact that the employee’s family member who is a service member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty.
The policies can be written as an amendment or rider to a group disability income policy, included in a group disability income policy, or written as a separate group insurance policy purchased by an employer.
DHS and ICE Extend COVID I-9 Rule
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I‑9 due to COVID‑19.
This temporary guidance was set to expire April 30, 2022. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID‑19, DHS has extended the Form I‑9 flexibilities until Oct. 31, 2022.
“If employees hired on or after April 1, 2021 work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19 related precautions, they are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under Section 274A of the INA until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.”
CalSavers Deadline Approaching.
On or before June 30, 2022, employers that employ 5-o 50 California-based employees must set up a retirement plan or enroll as a participating employer in the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program. Note that larger employers were previously required to comply.
Employers that already have their own retirement savings program are exempt but should register as exempt.
Plans that satisfy the retirement savings plan requirement include:
- 401(k) plans;
- Profit sharing plans;
- Simplified Employee Pension (SEP); or
- Simplified Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA
The failure of an employer to enroll carries a penalty of $250 per employee within 90 days after receipt of a notice of failure to comply and goes up to $500 per employee if noncompliance continues for more than 180 days after notice.
Written by: Gordon M. Berger, Partner