While the pandemic has seemingly run its course, it is still impacting how America does business. Rules are changing frequently, sometimes-conflicting guidelines are being issued, and new laws are being passed. Avoiding litigation is a prime concern, as is making sure your top talent is happy, safe, and secure. The 5 most pressing post-pandemic business health concerns are as follows!
Can We Mandate the Vaccine?
In most states, vaccinations can be required by employers. However, because the Covid-19 vaccines are designated as emergency use only, things aren’t so cut-and-dry. Because the states have not yet been able to mandate the vaccine for all of their citizens, people are not required to get the vaccine. You can see where this might cause an issue.
At the moment, Virginia allows you to mandate the vaccination. However, you’ll need to assess the culture of your workplace before doing so. Depending on the outlook and attitude of your employees, you may find that many of them do not want to take the vaccine. Additionally, there are some with legitimate medical reasons that bar them from doing so. You can still mandate that they get it or be terminated, but if 25% or more of them refuse… you’ll be looking at quite a few openings.
Our suggestion? Conduct an internal, anonymous poll to get a better read on how your employees feel.
Can We Incentivize the Vaccine?
Yes, but not without major caveats. HIPAA’s privacy requirements must be met if any incentive is offered. There may be no real way for you to know if your employee has been vaccinated, so you’ll need to be prepared to give them the incentive without verification on your part. Additionally, those with health issues that bar them from receiving the vaccine must be allowed to earn the incentive regardless.
Be careful, and consult your HR team and attorneys before offering any health based incentives.
Can We Test the Unvaccinated?
Yes. However, as of this blog, there is little to no guidance as to how the test is paid for, kept private, and which test is used/testing criteria. As with all health related matters, all testing must adhere to the guidelines set forth in the ADA and HIPAA. You’ll also want to make sure that testing is done fairly, and is not seen as punitive.
Again, consult your HR team and attorneys.
Can We Require Masks?
In most states, you can mandate that anyone entering your business has to wear a mask. While the new CDC guidance advocates that fully vaccinated individuals can go maskless, state and local rules supercede this guidance. Many businesses have adopted the approach of allowing the vaccinated to not wear masks and requiring the unvaccinated to wear them, but there are concerns about potentially violating HIPAA and ADA by inadvertently revealing vaccination status. Additionally, there are new and undecided legal issues regarding whether or not businesses are at fault if someone contracts Covid on their premises.
We believe that following the CDC guidance, in accordance with your state and local laws, is the best course of action. But, the choice is yours!
How Will the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Impact My Business?
The legal requirement that employers provide paid sick leave and expanded family/medical leave to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired 12/31/2020. However the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021, extended employer’s tax credits for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave voluntarily provided to employees until 4/31/2021. So, if your business voluntarily paid these benefits between 1/1/2021, and 3/31/ 2021, you can claim tax credits for those payments.
We Can Help You Address Your Post-Pandemic Business Health Concerns
Businesses throughout the country are struggling to balance the safety of their employees, the health of their business, and their protection from litigation in this post-pandemic business world. Our advice is to stay educated on legislation involving businesses and covid, and frequently reach out to your legal counsel and HR team during this time to be sure you are on top of your business health concerns in an ever-changing environment.
Many smaller businesses don’t have their own HR team, and that’s where we come in. At Capital Payroll Partners, we are able to provide both payroll and HR solutions to our clients and we’d love to be your partner. Give us a ring at (804) 364-7220 or use the form below to get in touch.