COVID-19 and State Updates

May 27, 2021

U.S. State Updates

California

Los Angeles County

A new ordinance is on the books in Los Angeles County. The Board of Supervisors enacted an urgency ordinance that requires private employers in the unincorporated areas of the county to provide paid leave for employees to receive COVID-19 vaccine injections.

Full-time employees are entitled to up to four hours of paid leave per injection to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, while part-time employees receive the prorated amount of four hours per injection based on their normally scheduled work hours over the two-week period preceding the injection. Employees are to be compensated at their normal rate of pay.

This leave is in addition to any paid leave under California’s paid sick leave law and employees must have exhausted all available leave under California’s Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law in order to receive the additional leave under this ordinance.

Employers may ask an employee to provide written verification of receipt of the vaccine in order to receive leave.

Employers must keep records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the ordinance including accurate and complete payroll records pertaining to each employee that document the name, address, occupation, dates of employment, rate or rates of pay, and the amount paid. Records must be retained for a period of four years.

There will be a required poster that must be posted in a conspicuous place where employees work – the poster is not yet available, we will keep you posted.

The ordinance is retroactive to January 1, 2021, and will remain in effect until August 31, 2021.

Santa Clara County

In a first for the COVID-19 era that we continue to endure, the Santa Clara County Health Officer has issued an order that includes a mandate that employers ascertain the vaccination status of all personnel. “Personnel” is defined as employees, contractors and subcontractors, independent contractors, vendors who are permitted to sell goods onsite, volunteers, and other individuals who regularly provide services onsite at the request of the business.

Until such time as an employee’s vaccination status is known, the employee is to be treated as not fully vaccinated. Those who decline to provide their vaccination status must also be treated as unvaccinated.

Employers must complete their initial collection of vaccination statuses by June 1, 2021 and continue to request updated vaccine status every 14 days from those who are not fully vaccinated or those who have declined to disclose their status. This information does not need to be provided to the county, but employers must collect and have it available to demonstrate compliance. According to FAQs provided by the county, collecting vaccination status of employees who perform any work at a facility or worksite in the county is required – employers are strongly encouraged (but not required) to request vaccination status of remote workers.

Failure to comply with the order may result in fines of up to $5,000 per violation, per day.

The county has provided a sample certification of vaccine status form – you may want to have counsel review to ensure that any request is compliant with data collection and privacy laws.

Also of note from the order is that all persons are required to follow the county’s directive as far as face coverings, which would still be required for all (vaccinated or not) working indoors unless everyone is vaccinated.

Employees also must immediately alert the employer if they test positive for COVID-19 and were in the workplace (a) within 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms or within 10 days after onset of symptoms (if symptomatic) or (b) within 48 hours prior to the date on which they were tested or within 10 days after the date on which they were tested and found positive if they were asymptomatic; ER is required to report the positive case to the county health department at sccsafeworkplace.org within 24 hours.

Colorado

The Division of Labor Standards and Statistics has updated Interpretive Notice and & Formal Opinion (“INFO”) #6B which provides guidance regarding paid leave under the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act. Among other COVID-related reasons, employers must also provide paid leave when an employee is obtaining preventive medical care (including a vaccination), or a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, of any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition.

District of Columbia

Last week, the council of the District of Columbia voted to provide Mayor Bowser with the authority to further extend the COVID-19 public health emergency until July 25, 2021, at the latest. In a somewhat surprising move, Mayor Bowser let the public health emergency declaration expire. As a result, the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA) will no longer provide an additional bucket of 16 weeks of leave for COVID-19-related reasons.

Massachusetts

Quick reminder: As of July 1, 2021, employees in Massachusetts will be able to file claims for Paid Family Leave benefits to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Family members for whom an employee can provide care under the program include spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, grandchild, grandparent or sibling; the parent of your spouse or domestic partner; and guardians who legally acted as a parent when you were a minor (also known as in loco parentis). To learn more about this leave type, go here.

Canada Provincial Updates

Manitoba

Employees can take three-hours of paid leave each time they receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. They should be paid based on their regular rate of pay, or an average wage, if their regular wage varies (such as a commission based employee).

Employers can require that employees provide notice of their need for leave as soon as reasonable. They may request reasonable verification of the need to take leave, but cannot require a medical certificate or doctor’s note.

Employees who need more time to travel to receive their vaccination or who suffer from vaccine side effects, are allowed to take a longer unpaid leave under the public emergency leave.

This paid vaccine leave complements the Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave program, which may reimburse eligible employers for providing paid time off to employees that are absent due to COVID-19 related reasons. The program covers up to $600 per employee for a maximum of five full days of COVID-19 related sick leave.

Nova Scotia

Under Nova Scotia’s newly enacted Paid COVID-19 Sick Leave Program employees may now qualify for up to four paid sick days if they are:

  • Awaiting a COVID-19 test appointment;
  • Getting tested;
  • Self-isolating while awaiting results; or
  • Going for a vaccination appointment.

The program covers employees who cannot work remotely and when they miss less than 50% of their scheduled work time in a one-week period due to COVID-19. Any sick days taken between May 10, 2021 and July 31, 2021 may be eligible for the program. The sick days do not have to be taken consecutively.

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 Sick Leave Program covers employee wages, including wages of self-employed people, up to a maximum of $20 per hour or $160 per day. The maximum payment over the 12-week period is $640 per worker.

Employers can apply for reimbursement for an employee’s sick days if they are a for-profit business or not-for-profit organization. Employees can apply for reimbursement starting May 26, 2021. There are rules regarding when employers are or are not eligible for reimbursement; please click here for more details.

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