Q: Are employers immune from liability for issues related to COVID-19?

A: As the pandemic continues and COVID-19 vaccines slowly but surely begin to reach more widespread distribution across the country, many employers continue to worry about potential liability in their workplaces for claims involving COVID-19 infections, along with a host of other claims related to employment.


Continue Reading More States Consider COVID-19 Immunity Laws as Employment Lawsuit Filings Trend Upward

Q: What do employers need to know about the recently released Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance for COVID-19 prevention programs in the workplace?

A: On January 21, President Biden signed an Executive Order on protecting worker health and safety. Pursuant to the order, on January 29, OSHA released new guidance titled, “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.”


Continue Reading New OSHA Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention Programs

Q: Are outside sales employees considered exempt under the outside sales exemption (OSE) if they work from a home office during the pandemic?

A: Throughout the last 11 months, the pandemic has required most in-person business activity to go virtual; and this is no less true for employees working in sales. However, Zoom meetings and social distancing have made it challenging for employers to classify their sales force as exempt under the OSE of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).


Continue Reading FLSA Exemptions for Outside Sales Employees in the Era of Social Distancing

Q: Are there any new laws or regulations that I should know about as we enter 2021?

A: The year 2020 undoubtedly presented many challenges to employers in keeping up with seemingly ever-changing laws and regulations, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic that swept our nation. As employers leave the previous year behind and begin focusing on what will follow in 2021, it is important to be mindful of various significant labor and employment law changes — in addition to those specifically related to COVID-19. Below are summaries of key non-COVID-related issues that employers should know about now and in the year ahead.


Continue Reading Goodbye 2020! A Look Ahead to Non-COVID Labor and Employment Updates for 2021

Q: What issues should my business begin to address so that when COVID-19 vaccines are ready for distribution, we will be ready?

A: On a nearly daily basis, Americans hear promising news about vaccine developments that will help protect us from COVID-19. As the reality of a safe, effective, and accessible vaccine draws closer, industries and businesses across the country have started developing their own COVID-19 vaccine strategies. These entities have quickly discovered that any vaccine policy implemented will raise complicated questions not previously faced. While historic annual influenza vaccine strategies are informative, COVID-19 vaccine issues bring new challenges because of the sheer magnitude of the pandemic and the unique issues surrounding the pace of development and distribution. Businesses should proactively address these issues now so when the COVID-19 vaccines are ready for distribution, they will be too.

Continue Reading When the COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives, Will Your Business Be Ready?

Q: Our company has several locations in New Jersey where our employees work in proximity to customers and vendors. Can you please provide details on Governor Murphy’s recent order implementing new workplace health and safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: On October 28, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order establishing new health and safety requirements for employers with employees who are physically present in the workplace. Effective November 5, the order establishes minimum standards for all public and private employers to protect employees, customers, and others who are present in the workplace.

Continue Reading New Jersey’s Executive Order Addresses COVID-19 and Workplace Safety

Q: What is the definition of “close contact” for purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing and quarantining requirements?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance that significantly expands the definition of “close contact” for purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing and quarantining requirements. Previously, the CDC defined “close contact” to include only certain individuals who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of someone with COVID-19. Because this previous definition was in place before the CDC issued its mask guidance, many, including employers, inferred that “close contact” meant contact without any face coverings.


Continue Reading Too Close for Comfort: CDC’s Latest Guidance Significantly Expands the Definition of “Close Contact”

Q: What do I need to know about the recently enacted Philadelphia ordinance providing Philadelphia employees with paid public health emergency leave?

A: On September 17, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed an ordinance, providing paid “public health emergency” leave benefits to workers in Philadelphia who physically report to their jobs and who may not have been covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) — including employees working for businesses with more than 500 employees. The ordinance applies to all employees (and some nonemployees, including independent contractors) working within the geographic boundaries of the City of Philadelphia for at least 40 hours in a year. Potential nonemployees covered by the ordinance include domestic workers (e.g., housekeepers), health care professionals, home care workers, and gig workers (e.g., individuals driving for rideshare or food delivery services).
Continue Reading Philadelphia Adopts Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance

Q: Is there new legislation that expands COVID-19 protections to California employees?

A: Since the beginning of 2020, employers have had to make significant changes to their operations due to an increasing number of newly enacted legislation and requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter the final quarter of 2020, California employers must again quickly respond to new legislation that expands COVID-19 protections to California employees and imposes stringent requirements on California employers. This month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed three COVID-19-related bills into law that affect employee rights: (1) SB 1159, (2) AB 659, and (3) AB 1867.

Senate Bill 1159: “Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19”

Effective immediately for California employers with 5 or more employees, Senate Bill 1159 creates a presumption of entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits for employees infected with COVID-19 if:

  • The employee tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after performing labor or services at the employee’s “place of employment” (excluding the employee’s residence) at the employer’s direction; and
  • The employee tests positive during an “outbreak” at the specific place of employment (as determined by the employer’s claims administrator).


Continue Reading California Governor Expands COVID-19 Protections for California Employees and Imposes Additional Requirements on California Employers

Q. Are there any COVID-related tax incentives that could benefit employers and employees?

A. Employers and employees alike continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employers have reduced revenues and need to conserve resources. Many employees have been furloughed or permanently laid off and may need to prematurely access vested retirement benefits to make ends meet. Other employees need leave from work due to their own or a family member’s COVID-related illnesses. COVID-related tax incentives fall into two broad categories: incentives that advantage employers and incentives that advantage employees. Our Firm’s prior alert, Revised Summary of CARES Act and FFCRA Tax Credit and Payroll Tax Relief, provides an overview of the tax advantaged programs that are available to employers. These generally advantage the employer by providing a credit to the employer’s payroll taxes or by providing a low interest loan to the employer. There are also programs that an employer can implement that can save the employer money in the short- and long-term. In addition, there are programs that ease an employee’s access to amounts the employee has accrued under an employer’s tax qualified retirement program, and others that permit employers to provide employees with certain special benefits during these difficult times. Employees can even provide assistance to others impacted by COVID-19 through leave sharing/donation programs. Each program is outlined below.
Continue Reading PROVIDING COVID-19 FINANCIAL RELIEF: How to Free Up Access to Employer Assets and/or Ease Employee Access to Vested Benefits