On January 11, 2021, the NH Department of Health and Human Services updated its New Hampshire COVID-19 Employer Travel, Screening, and Exclusion Guidance for employers and workplaces. The guidance updates some exceptions to the quarantine requirements related to those who have been vaccinated and those who have more
Although Congress had the opportunity to extend the requirement that companies with 500 or fewer employees provide paid medical leave and family leave to workers impacted by COVID-19, it did not do so; and those mandates expired on December 31, 2020. The eleventh hour stimulus package did keep in place, through March 31, 2021, the tax credit to employers who voluntarily continue to provide this paid benefit.
The USDOL has issued some guidance to provide “clarity around some of the novel issues that FFCRA’s expiration raises” according to Wage and Hour Administrator Cheryl Stanton. As of December 31, 2020, the DOL added two questions and answers (104 and 105) to its very helpful general FFCRA guidance located at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions.
The COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, both part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, (collectively the “Stimulus Bill”) contain numerous provisions related to employer sponsored benefit plans. Below are some of the key provisions relating to welfare plans, retirement plans and other employer provided benefits.
Continue Reading Benefit Plan Provisions in the Stimulus Bill
President Trump last night signed into law a bipartisan bill extending a number of benefits set to expand on December 31, 2020 and expanding other pandemic relief benefits. A summary of the provisions which will impact individual employees and workplaces follows:
- FFCRA Emergency Sick and Family Leave benefits were not extended and will expire as
Effective December 26, 2020, Massachusetts businesses will see additional restrictions on occupancy capacity and gathering sizes. These new measures, which were announced by Governor Charlie Baker, are intended to prevent a post-Christmas surge of COVID-19 infections. Massachusetts saw significant increases in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths related to the pandemic following the Thanksgiving holiday, when many people failed to heed recommendations to avoid large gatherings. The Governor hopes that these new restrictions will avoid a further spike in COVID-19 numbers following Christmas.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Governor Imposes Additional Restrictions, Seeking To Avoid Post-Christmas Surge
Employers have been asking for months whether they may mandate employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the EEOC’s recent guidance, the short answer is “yes,” but with certain legal limitations. Employers considering a policy on vaccinations should make sure they review this current guidance.
On December 16, 2020, the EEOC updated its Q&A…
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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to issue shortly new guidelines for quarantine periods, according to Director Robert Redfield.
Under the expected new guidelines, the quarantine period for those who have come in close contact with an infected individual may end after 7 days for those who test negative. For those…
As Thanksgiving and what is traditionally the busiest holiday travel period approaches, COVID-19 numbers are rising, and state governments are doubling down on travel and quarantine restrictions.
The State of NH revised its travel guidance on November 12, 2020 changing the quarantine period for those NH residents who travel internationally (including to/from Canada); on a cruise ship; or domestically outside of the New England states for non-essential purposes. Essential travel includes travel for work, school, personal safety, medical care, care of others, parental shared custody, for medication, and brief trips for take-out food and groceries. Of course, the guidance continues to discourage business from allowing business-related travel for non-essential purposes.
Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order #74 (the “Order”) on November 19, 2020 mandating the wearing of masks or cloth face coverings in indoor and outdoor public spaces where individuals are unable to or inconsistently maintain a physical distance of six feet from persons outside their own household. The order takes effect on November 19, 2020. Relevant portions of the Order are summarized below:
- All persons over the age of 5 in the State of New Hampshire are covered by the Order.
- “Public spaces” includes any part of public or private property that is generally accessible to the public including lobbies, waiting areas, restaurants, retail businesses, streets, beaches, parks, elevators, restrooms, and parking areas.
- Municipalities are free to enact ordinances which are stricter than the Order.
- The Order does not override any provision of industry specific guidance related to face coverings referenced in Emergency Order #52. Where there is a conflict, the industry specific guidance controls.