COVID-19 Update May 21, 2021

Big news from the IRS is that they have finally come out with guidance for employers and PEO’s on the cobra subsidy and how it’s supposed to work. NAPEO’s abbreviated version here provides a helpful summary.

In response to the CDC’s revised guidance, OSHA issued an announcement referring businesses to the CDC’s new guidance advising that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or social distance in non-healthcare settings. But neither announcement provide specific guidance to employers about whether and how they should proceed with unmasking policies and procedures. For now, this leaves employers with three choices: maintain full masking rules, require vaccinated workers to present proof of inoculation before being allowed to go mask-less, or ask employees to follow an honor system approach – with the caveat that state or local law may limit these options.

As the economy continues to improve, many states around the country, especially around the south, have opted out of the enhanced federal unemployment benefits to help get more people back into the workforce. In Louisiana, the governor was approached by a dozen business groups, representing the major industries of our state, who begged him to decline the extra $300 per week; however, he turned them down and said he would consider it after further research. Thus, the struggle to find employees willing and able to work continues.

Organizations that have begun to roll out their plans for returning employees to their worksites have already faced some obstacles. Companies’ return-to-the-office announcements tend to allow most knowledge workers to split their time between showing up in person and continuing to work remotely. These plans will evolve, HR leaders say, as they identify complications and work through them.

Furthermore, employers may want to ask workers for proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status now that many federal and state officials have relaxed COVID-19 safety rules for people who are fully vaccinated. But employers should be careful not to ask for more information than is necessary as to not violate the EEOC or ADA.

This week, the U.S. Senate voted for repealing the prior administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conciliation rule through a Congressional Review Act resolution. Under the rule, the EEOC was to provide employers with “a written summary of the known facts,” among other information, when an employee files a discrimination charge. Conciliation is similar to mediation, except that an EEOC investigator conducts conciliation procedures, rather than an independent third party.

The SBA is closing Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grant application window on Monday. Eligible establishments have until May 24, 8 p.m. ET, to submit applications. There has been high demand for the $28.6 billion program, with more than 300,000 applicants representing nearly $70 billion in requested funds.

Delta is still working diligently on the ERTC tax credits, and we are determined to get submitted ASAP. Thank you to everyone that has sent in the required paperwork.

Have a great weekend!

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