COVID-19 and Federal/State Updates

August 22, 2022

The Larkin Company & Synopsys Webinar – Last Call!

70% of your employees are caring for a dependent – either a child or an older adult and may take a LOA as a result. Kerstin Aiello, Director of North America Benefits at Synopsys, will explain which benefits they offer to retain talent: before, during and after a leave of absence. Webinar: Tuesday, August 23, 12-12:45 PST. Register to attend.

U.S. Federal Updates

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

As you’ve likely heard by now, the CDC has once again updated its COVID-19 guidance (you can read the press release as well as the CDC’s Summary of Guidance document). COVID is here to stay; however, the risk of severe illness or death has been greatly reduced thanks to achieving population immunity (due to vaccination and previous infection). Of note:

  • The CDC is no longer placing an emphasis on vaccinated vs. unvaccinated when it comes to its guidance. However, they continue to stress the importance of staying up to date with vaccination.
  • The CDC is now recommending that those who are exposed to COVID-19 (and regardless of vaccination status) wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5. Quarantining is no longer required.
  • If you have COVID-19, you should isolate. If you are sick and do not have test results yet, you should isolate. If you test negative, you end isolation.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends staying at home for 5 days and isolating.
    • If after 5 days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and your symptoms are improving (or you never had symptoms), isolation may end after day 5.
    • Avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11.
    • Wear a high-quality mask through day 10.
  • Those who had moderate illness or severe illness should isolate through day 10.
  • Those who had severe illness or have a weakened immune system should consult their doctor before ending isolation.
  • If symptoms worsen after ending isolation, isolation should restart at day 0.
  • The CDC is no longer recommending screening testing of asymptomatic people without known exposures in most community settings.
  • The CDC emphasizes that physical distancing is just one component in protecting one’s self and others.

Department of Labor (DOL) – Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

If you have employees who are experiencing Long COVID, more resources are available at COVID.gov. There is a lot of great information including this document that outlines supports and services currently available. This link provides more information in relation to Long COVID as a disability. You can also search various topics.

Department of Labor (DOL) – Wage and Hour Division

The DOL recently created two new fact sheets regarding leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Fact sheet #28Q pertains to bonding with a child under FMLA and fact sheet #28P pertains to caring for a family member with a serious health condition.

U.S. State Updates

California

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is now the Civil Rights Department (CRD). They have a new URL which is https://calcivilrights.ca.gov. Don’t worry, if you forget, the old URL (https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/) still works for the time-being. The CRD is working on updating the required posters for employers – we will let you know when they are available.

San Francisco – Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE)

This newsletter from June detailed the new Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (PHELO) which starts on October 1, 2022. The OLSE has released the required poster that employers must post in a conspicuous place at any workplace or job site where an employee works and, where feasible, by providing it to employees via electronic communication. This includes emails, text, and/or posting in a conspicuous place in an employer’s web-based or app-based platform.

New Jersey

On August 1, 2022, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) adopted new and amended regulations regarding the display of official posters of the DCR. Among other posters, the DCR is responsible for the New Jersey Family Leave Act poster as well as the Law Against Discrimination poster. Employers may now satisfy the requirements for posting DCR posters by doing so on the internet or intranet site (as long as all employees have access).

The two posters mentioned above are now also required to be distributed to employees on an annual basis and upon request from an employee. Annual distribution of the posters may be done via email, printed material, or on the internet or intranet (again, as long as all employees have access).

Canada – Federally Regulated Employers

We previously updated you that federally regulated employers in Canada will soon be required to provide up to 10 days of paid medical leave to their employees following the approval of Bill 3-C, and that the live date of this law was to be determined. You can find the details here, if you’d like a refresher.

The law is now expected to go live on December 1, 2022; however, this is subject to change if the government approves an earlier date. We will continue to keep you posted on the confirmed live date once known.

The government has also proposed some regulations, which, if approved, will apply to the law once it goes into effect. The regulations clarify several administrative details, including that:

  • If an employer uses a different year other than a calendar year to calculate an employee’s entitlement to annual vacation, that employer should use that same year for paid medical leave.
  • Any violations will be handled in accordance with the Administrative Monetary Penalties (Canada Labour Code) Regulations.
  • The “regular rate” for wages used in calculating paid medical leave is defined as either the average daily earnings (before overtime) in the 20-day period prior to the first day of an employee’s leave or a different amount calculated in accordance with a collective agreement.
  • Employers, as part of their record keeping requirements, must track leave dates, the year of employment in respect of which the leave was earned, the number of days of leave carried over from a previous year, the written request for medical certification made by the employer, and a copy of the employee’s medical certification once submitted.

The proposed regulations can be found here. We will keep you posted as to if and when the regulations are approved.

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