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COVID-19 Update October 22, 2020

We are patiently awaiting anything to be announced on the new stimulus package that continues being negotiated. If a bill is to pass by November 3, a deal must be reached this week, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Both sides agree on the need for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and more enhanced unemployment benefits, as were found in the CARES Act, which expired at the end of July. Hopefully we will have something in place very soon.

New COVID-19 contract tracing procedures released by the CDC yesterday have expanded the category of individuals who are deemed to be in close contact with each other – and will complicate the already difficult task faced by employers when trying to maintain a safe workplace environment. The updated guidance now indicates that workers should be considered to be at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus if they were within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the 48 hours before the infected individual exhibited symptoms or, if asymptomatic, 48 hours before the COVID-19 test was administered, even if the interactions that lead to a cumulative total of 15 minutes were brief and spread out over that time. The National Restaurant Association has issued new guidance on maintaining a safe operation. This industry has been so heavily impacted by the pandemic, and it is those that adapt and stand out from the others that show resilience and durability for years to come.

Furthermore, there have been some interesting operational changes due to COVID-19 in most workplaces. HR has shifted many processes, such as onboarding, to virtual formats that will likely endure past the health crisis. With the array of virtual tools available, remote employees can feel a part of the staff, even though they are not physically in the office. Financial incentives can encourage employees to participate in workplace initiatives that help workers achieve health goals, but critics see incentive programs as penalizing the unhealthy or as a way to coerce employees to disclose protected health information.

The EEOC signaled it was moving forward with new rules on financial incentives in wellness programs, voting 2-1 to send draft regulations to the federal budget office for review. Moreover, employers are focused on providing employees more flexibility than ever before, creating a shared purpose and building deeper connections with their employees. Organizations that get this right will have a more engaged workforce, greater employee retention, and a better ability to attract the best talent. COVID-19 has employers rethinking how they deliver training to students, creating an uptick in interest for U.S. apprenticeships in medical technology, communications infrastructure, and online software platforms. Please let us know if Delta’s service offerings can help with these shifting terms of employment.

Don’t forget, our next vlog episode of Dialed in with Delta will be next Thursday 10/29 at 10am, centering on how to work from home (WFH) the right way. Our expert panelists will discuss some of the issues that businesses with remote employees are facing and provide tips for helping them achieve a better work-life balance.

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