COVID-19 Update August 2, 2021

Today, Louisiana Governor Edwards temporarily reinstated a statewide mask mandate through September 1st as cases and hospitalizations rise at the fastest rate since the start of the pandemic.

For those in other states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they are in locations with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission rates. With low global vaccination rates, there are likely to be new variants in our future that could be even more threatening.

Furthermore, workplace safety guidelines from federal, state, and local authorities are rapidly changing in response to the highly transmittable COVID-19 Delta variant, and employers may want to update their policies accordingly. Here’s a guide on how to develop a COVID-19 employee vaccination policy. Federal law allows employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees who’ve been infected with COVID-19 and those who haven’t. There are many variables to consider, so if you have questions about this, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

There is no specific COVID standard that applies to employers and employees not covered by the recent emergency temporary standard, which applies specifically to employers with employees working in a health care setting. As a result, the OSHA continues to issue citations under the so-called General Duty Clause, Section 5(a) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, as well as specific standards that OSHA believes are applicable to a given situation. However, OSHA recently updated guidance issued in January that was intended to help employers implement COVID prevention programs and identify risks that could lead to employees being exposed to the virus.

The updated guidance focuses on workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at risk in order to assist both employers and workers in taking appropriate steps to prevent COVID exposure and infection. OSHA encourages unvaccinated workers to get vaccinated as the best defense against contracting COVID.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor said it was doing away with a Trump-era joint employer rule for determining when multiple employers are jointly liable for labor law violations. A formal rescission has yet to be published but is expected shortly. The change may signal a return to a joint employer standard where the right to exercise control (even in the absence of doing so), would be sufficient to establish a joint employer relationship. Louisiana has a couple of new Employment laws you need to be aware of for pregnancy accommodations and limiting the use of criminal history in hiring.

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