On January 30, President Biden announced his intention to end the COVID-19 National Emergency (NE) and Public Health Emergency (PHE) effective May 11, 2023. Both emergency declarations resulted in various forms of relief for employer-sponsored benefit plans, and both have been extended several times since their inception nearly three years ago. While their impact on federal law differs, employee benefit plan sponsors and administrators should take note of the ending emergencies and their associated relief. Below is an overview of the impact that the end of this relief will have on employer-sponsored benefit plans.Continue Reading Tolling No More: Preparing for the End of COVID-19 Emergency Declarations
On July 12, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 FAQs and as a result, revised certain earlier guidance regarding permissible COVID-19 testing, workplace screening, and return to work certifications. The EEOC explained that this revised guidance was due in part to the evolving circumstances of the pandemic but cautioned that these revisions were not intended to suggest that workplace safety policies related to COVID-19 were no longer warranted.
Continue Reading EEOC’s Updated Guidance on COVID-19 Testing in the Workplace
As employees are increasingly returning to the office, a new amendment to existing Tennessee law regarding vaccination further complicates the landscape for employers concerning COVID-19 vaccine mandates. See the full text of the amendment here.
Chapter 2 of Title 14 of the Tennessee Code, passed in November 2021 by the Tennessee Legislature, prohibits a private business, governmental entity, school, or local education agency from compelling or otherwise taking “adverse action” against a person to compel proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination if the person objects to being vaccinated “for any reason.” See TCA 14-2-102(a). In other words, a private business in Tennessee cannot take adverse action against a person based on their vaccination status. As you may recall, Title 14 provided private businesses with an opportunity to request an exemption from this blanket restriction on their ability to require proof of vaccination by requesting the comptroller exclude the entity from the purview of this law.Continue Reading New Amendment to the Tennessee COVID-19 Bill Provides Medical and Religious Exemptions to Certain Tennessee Employees Subject to Mandatory Vaccination Policies
On February 18, President Biden announced that the COVID-19 National Emergency would continue beyond March 1, 2022, for up to another year. As a result of the continuing National Emergency, the “tolling” of several important deadlines applicable to health and welfare plans, as well as qualified retirement plans, will also remain in effect. This means plan sponsors and administrators should continue to apply these deadlines to affected individuals on a participant-by-participant basis for the foreseeable future.
Continue Reading Tolling, Tolling, Tolling, Keep Those COVID-19 National Emergency Deadlines Tolling
Over the past year, the Biden administration has issued a number of labor and employment executive orders applicable to government contractors. Some of those requirements are updates to Obama-era executive orders, while others are new. Together, these obligations, which include an almost 50% increase to the applicable minimum wage, can have a significant impact on contractors.
For any government contractors that have questions about these labor and employment changes, we hope you can join us for an overview of these recent developments.Continue Reading [WEBINAR] What Was Old is New Again – Government Contractor Labor & Employment Updates
The vaccine mandates President Biden announced on September 9 have not aged well. Two are enjoined nationwide and a skeptical Supreme Court so undermined one that the government withdrew it, at least for the immediate future. Only one, an interim final rule applicable to employees at healthcare facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds, is still…
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, has again stayed Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) attempt at enforcing its COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which OSHA first published on November 5, 2021. This matter will now return to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for further proceedings. But, for now, large employers across the nation are relieved of OSHA’s January 10 and February 9 compliance deadlines.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Halts OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard
On January 7, the Supreme Court heard an oral argument regarding the applications for an emergency stay of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) as well as the regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. As we recently reported here, pending a ruling to the contrary by the Supreme Court, the ETS is currently in effect in the 29 states operating without a state-run OSHA Plan.
Continue Reading TOSHA Will Delay Vaccine Enforcement and Await Supreme Court Ruling
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will enforce the COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule in the 25 states, District of Columbia, and territories in which the healthcare vaccine rule has not been enjoined by a court. Medicare or Medicaid providers or suppliers in the following states are required…
UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hold a special session on January 7, 2022 and will hear oral argument on the legal challenges to the OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard as well as the regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requiring vaccination for certain healthcare staff. We will provide additional updates as they become available.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has dissolved the Fifth Circuit’s stay of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).
In a 2-1 decision issued on December 17, the Sixth Circuit determined that OSHA did not exceed its authority in issuing the ETS, concluding that “[l]ongstanding precedent addressing the plain language of the ACT, OSHA’s interpretation of the statute, and examples of direct Congressional authorization following the enactment of the OSH Act all show that OSHA’s authority includes protection against infectious diseases that present a significant risk in the workplace, without regard to exposure to that same hazard in some form outside the workplace.”
The Sixth Circuit went on to conclude that the plaintiffs could not show irreparable harm in light of COVID-19 still posing an emergency demonstrated by a recent rapid increase in COVID-19 infections and the emergence of the delta and omicron variants, and ultimately that the plaintiffs could not establish a likelihood of success on the merits warranting the Fifth Circuit’s stay.
Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Dissolves Stay of OSHA ETS Requiring Vaccination and Testing for Large Employers