E-Blasts

On May 5, 2020, the EEOC published updates to its “What You Should Know” article about COVID-19, including important guidance for employers regarding employees with medical conditions placing them at higher risk for severe illness if they get COVID-19. The Updates are available here.  Employers are advised that knowing an employee has a medical condition alone is NOT sufficient to bar the employee from the workplace during the pandemic.

The USCIS released a revised M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 which is available here.

This new version has expanded information on properly completing Form I-9 (available here), Employment Eligibility Verification and has updates based on the recent Form I-9 release (available here), as well as policy changes and clarifications.

If you have questions regarding the revised M-274, Handbook for Employers, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.

The California Labor Commissioner has released the CA COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for Food Sector Workers poster. Employers with 500 or more employees who are covered under California’s new supplemental paid sick leave requirement for food sector workers (including agricultural workers, see our report here) must post this in a clearly visible place.  If the employer’s food sector workers do not frequent the workplace, then the employer may electronically distribute the notice.

State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) just announced that it has dramatically expanded its coverage of COVID-19 claims by essential workers in California.  Effective immediately, SCIF is accepting any claim by an essential worker (as defined by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20) for a diagnosed case of COVID-19, regardless of whether or not that worker can demonstrate the virus was contracted during the course of employment.  The diagnosis must include a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 and must occur during the period of time between when the Governor issued his Shelter-in-Place order (March 19, 2020) and before that order is lifted.

EEOC UPDATES GUIDANCE TO EMPLOYERS: COVID-19 TESTS ALLOWED

By: P. Elizabeth Helms

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued updated guidance on April 23, 2020 specifically concerning COVID-19 testing in the workplace.  That guidance may be found here.   Employers may now require COVID-19 tests before allowing employees back into the workplace.

Normally these actions would be considered overly broad and an invasion of an employee’s privacy rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), but the EEOC has determined these tests are "job related and consistent with business necessity", one of the requirements under the ADA for an employer to require medical tests.   However, the employer should make sure the tests are accurate and reliable, and be aware that some incidence of false-positives or false-negatives may be associated with a particular test.  Also, as with all medical information, the test results would be subject to ADA confidentiality requirements.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced earlier this week an interim enforcement response plan for OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The interim enforcement response plan can be found here.

In part, the enforcement response plan instructs OSHA Offices to communicate with employers through the agency’s “non-formal” procedures by telephone, fax, and email for non-urgent investigations and reporting, to minimize contact. The enforcement response plan encourages OSHA Area Offices to conduct opening conferences, and program and document review electronically or remotely (e.g., via phone) where practicable. Finally, the response plan provides “specific enforcement discretion” for enforcing the Respiratory Protection standard and directs compliance officers to assess an employer’s good-faith efforts to provide and ensure respiratory protection, as available.

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