With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, employers are wondering whether they can or should require employees to receive a vaccine. After all, there could be significant benefits for the operations of many businesses if employees are vaccinated against COVID-19.

There are no federal or state laws which prohibit an employer from mandating that employees receive vaccinations, including influenza or pandemic influenza vaccines. However, while employers may mandate influenza vaccines under certain circumstances, there are two primary exceptions to this principle that have been identified by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”): (1) when an employee has a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) that prevents the employee from being vaccinated; and (2) when an employee has a sincere religious belief that prevents the employee from being vaccinated.

Continue Reading Should Employers Mandate COVID-19 or Flu Vaccines?

On Saturday, August 8, 2020, President Trump took executive actions, sidestepping Congress, to extend certain federal pandemic economic relief. The executive actions were issued after Congressional negotiations over additional pandemic economic relief appeared to have collapsed.

One of these executive actions would address additional unemployment relief by establishing a new lost wages assistance program that would provide a $400 weekly payment to eligible claimants beginning with weeks of unemployment ending August 1, 2020. Individuals would be eligible for these $400 payments if they receive at least $100 per week in any of the following types of benefits: unemployment compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Extended Benefits, Short-Time Compensation, Trade Adjustment Allowance, or Self-Employment Assistance. The $400 would be comprised of a $300 federal contribution, diverted by FEMA from the Disaster Relief Fund, and a required $100 State match, proposed to come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for States. Some States say they do not know whether they can participate because of their own State budget shortfalls caused by the emergency and because use of the CRF would divert funds from necessary COVID-19 testing programs.


Continue Reading President Trump Signs Executive Actions That Would Provide Certain Pandemic Relief

This post was updated on 6/2/2020.

In light of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will go into effect on April 1, 2020, companies should consider implementing a new paid sick leave policy.   Below, for reference only, is a sample policy to consider.   Any new paid sick leave policy should be tailored to each particular workplace, and this policy is not intended to serve as, or to replace, legal advice on this important subject.

SAMPLE Emergency Paid Sick Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy:

In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, the recently-implemented federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), and our Company’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its employees and other members of the community, the Company has adopted this temporary Emergency Paid Sick Leave (“EPSL”) Policy (the “Policy”).  Under the Policy, employees may take a paid leave of absence, up to a maximum of two weeks of paid sick leave in addition to other paid leave provided by the Company to the employee, subject to the terms and conditions outlined below.

Continue Reading Sample Emergency Paid Sick Leave Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy

  1. What is the difference between a furlough and a layoff or termination?

Furloughs are time off from work without pay, such as a temporary reduction in an employee’s days or hours of work.  Furloughs are different from layoffs or terminations.  During furloughs, workers remain employed and sometimes work a reduced schedule.  Layoffs or terminations involve a separation from employment.

Continue Reading Furlough FAQs

On September 5, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) issued new guidance on when employers must count 1099-MISC workers as part of their workforce for purposes of the Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) program. In its press release announcing the new guidance, the DFML stated that the guidance was issued after meetings with representatives from hundreds of businesses across Massachusetts during which the businesses consistently sought clarification on whether they are required to collect contributions from, and report on, 1099-MISC workers.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Clarifies When 1099-MISC Workers Should be Counted for Purposes of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Program