Companies reopening their offices and facilities will be collecting sensitive personal and health information about their employees (as well as about customers, vendors, and other visitors) to track COVID-19 symptoms. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) typically places strict limits on the collection, use, and disclosure of health information about employees, the ongoing pandemic has prompted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to permit the widespread gathering of health information in the workplace in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Continue Reading Coronavirus Tracking Programs Need to Comply with Privacy Laws

As states begin to reopen their economies following months of shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are wrestling with challenging questions about how to bring their employees back in a safe and responsible manner.

New guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) provides some insight about what employers can and cannot do in connection with bringing certain vulnerable employees back to the workplace.Continue Reading EEOC Offers Guidance for Accommodating Older Workers and Pregnant Employees in Return to Work Following Pandemic-Related Closures

In mid-March the work world as we know it changed due to the COVID-19 emergency orders.   Many employers were forced to make immediate decisions about things previously unknown to them like furloughs, wage reductions, providing Personal Protective Equipment, applying for loans to cover payroll, and ensuring the safety of essential workers.  Now the focus is on return to work plans and providing a safe place for employees, customers, and vendors in order to return to something as close as possible to “business as usual.”
Continue Reading Post-COVID-19 Employment Litigation is Coming: How Can Employers Avoid It?

As more businesses begin to re-open their doors and consider ways to provide a safe environment for their employees in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may find that many of their employees are facing new and unprecedented challenges.  These challenges frequently come at a cost.  In order to provide employees with assistance, and encourage them to return to work despite these additional costs, employers may want to consider offering tax-free “qualified disaster relief payments” to employees.
Continue Reading A Win-Win for Employers and Employees: The Benefits of Tax-Free Qualified Disaster Relief Payments in Connection with COVID-19

Last week, Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker announced a four-phase reopening strategy for the Commonwealth. Each of the four phases (called “Start,” “Cautious,” “Vigilant,” and “New Normal”) will see gradual reopening of additional industries with lessening restrictions as warranted by data on testing, new cases, and deaths attributable to COVID-19.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Announces Plans for First Phase of Reopening

Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order #40 (the “Order’) provides guidance on whether a cloth covering or face mask (“mask”) is required in all New Hampshire workplaces and under what conditions, if any, an employer may allow an employee to work without a mask or face covering while at work.  The Order was issued on May 1, 2020 and remains in effect until May 31, 2020.  It applies to all businesses and organizations deemed “essential” and that remained open during the Governor’s “Stay at Home” orders, and also  to those businesses and organizations that are reopening all, or a portion, of their operations.
Continue Reading Mask and Face Covering Requirements in New Hampshire Workplaces

On May 1, 2020, Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order #40 to facilitate and guide the reopening of the State in phases.  Referred to as Stay At Home 2.0, Emergency Order #40 sets forth mandatory requirements for those businesses that were considered to be “essential” and that therefore have remained open, as well as for those that are scheduled to reopen all or a portion of their operations in the coming weeks.
Continue Reading NH Healthcare Providers Receive Roadmap for Remaining Open and Reopening Workplaces

In a guidance dated March 18, 2020, and discussed in further detail in this blog post, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) made it clear that employers are entitled to monitor employees’ temperatures during the pandemic in order minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits medical examinations unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity, and taking an employee’s body temperature is regarded as a medical examination. Given recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEOC amended its previous guidance that prohibiting temperature taking to allow it in these circumstances. There are, however, a number of issues associated with temperature taking that which employers should consider.Continue Reading The Do’s and Don’ts of Employee Temperature Checks

On May 1, 2020 the Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force issued Universal Guidelines for all New Hampshire employers and employees. The guidelines apply to organizations deemed essential and that remained open during the “Stay at Home Order,” as well as to those now set to reopen fully or partially in the coming weeks.

The Guidelines are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Occupational Safety and Health Association.  As CDC guidance continues to evolve, businesses should frequently check for updated information. In addition to the general guidelines, industry specific guidance has been developed for  businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, barber shops, hair salons, and golf courses. The Universal Guidelines are designed to strike a balance between ensuring public safety and allowing New Hampshire businesses to remain open.Continue Reading Stay at Home 2.0 Provides Roadmap for Reopening NH Business and Safety Guidelines for Employers