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Biz Groups Seek to Save Foreign Student Work Permits

Multiple business groups have sided with the Biden administration in a plea to a US appeals court to uphold the federal government’s practice of providing work permits to student visa holders.

According to a Reuters article, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (Washtech) is requesting that the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit revive its lawsuit that argues that the Optimal Practical Training (OPT) program is beyond the federal government’s authority.

“If Washtech’s broad claims were to succeed, scores of other immigration programs—including, for example, work authorization for H-4 spouses[—]would crumble too,” McDermott partner Paul Hughes wrote in a brief on behalf of the groups’ leaders.

Access the article.




Can Employers Offer COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives for Employees?

Can employers offer incentives for employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine? In short, yes. Incentives may take many forms, such as a one-time bonus, a gift card or a few extra vacation hours. Employers can get creative.

According to McDermott’s Michelle S. Strowhiro, Judith Wethall and Ludia Kwon, there are two issues to consider when implementing a vaccine incentive program for purposes of complying with employment and benefits laws: the concepts of coercion and reasonable accommodation.

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Tax Guidance Needed as Remote Work Grows, Panelist Says

How should the federal and state governments approach remote work taxation? In this Law360 article, McDermott partner Kathleen Quinn says the growing complexity of remote work highlights the need for guidance.

“What’s becoming even more problematic is now, we don’t just have people that work in a New York office and they traditionally work from home from New Jersey,” Quinn said. “Now, people are saying, ‘Well, I’m going to work from New Jersey, then in the winter I’m going to work from Florida…and then maybe for a month I’ll go to Europe.’ It really becomes sort of a withholding mess.”

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COVID-19 Laws and Regulations: A Midyear Update

As employers navigate evolving COVID-19 state and federal rules, workplaces will have to stay vigilant about changes throughout the second half of 2021. These include changes to mask mandates, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard and the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act.

Recent US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance, for example, confirmed what employment lawyers had already been counseling businesses to do, according to McDermott partner Carole A. Spink in a recent Law360 article.

“The guidance was important because it did clarify that employers can provide incentives for voluntary programs. [There] was a big open question about, ‘Am I going to get into trouble because I’m trying to incentivize people to be vaccinated?'”

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Labor and Employment Policy to Watch in 2021’s Second Half

As US Congressional Democrats continue their advocacy for a pro-worker agenda, multiple bills and rules could bring about sweeping changes to the civil rights and labor protections for millions of workers. These include:

  • The Equality Act
  • The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act
  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
  • The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act)
  • The US Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule

According to McDermott partner Ellen Bronchetti, the PRO Act, for example, would enshrine a strict ABC test into federal law that would analyze whether workers qualify as independent contractors.

“I think that because Biden has promised to strengthen worker protections and strengthen workers’ right to organize, I think employers need to keep a real close eye on this legislation or versions of the legislation or pieces that might get pulled out and put elsewhere,” Bronchetti said in an article published in Law360.

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New York State Department of Labor Publishes Standard for Prevention of Airborne Infectious Diseases

On July 6, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) published its Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard (Standard), as required under the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act. Under the Standard, employers with worksites located in New York are required to either adopt the NYSDOL’s model exposure prevention plan or develop their own alternative prevention plan no later than August 5, 2021, and circulate their plan to employees no later than September 4, 2021.

According to McDermott’s Lindsay DitlowChristina S. Dumitrescu and Abigail M. Kagan, employers must adopt a prevention plan but are not required to implement the plan until the New York State Commissioner of Health (Commissioner) designates an airborne disease as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” As of the date of this alert, the Commissioner has not issued any such designation so employers need not implement their plans just yet.

Access the article.




How to Handle an Influx of HR Accommodation Requests

As employees begin to return to their offices, human resource teams are being inundated with accommodation requests. The reasons behind these requests include:

  • Concerns about COVID-19 exposure;
  • Convenience of working from home;
  • Lack of child care options and costs of care; and
  • Weariness of daily commute.

McDermott’s Laurie Baddon says in an article published in SHRM that employers should share their policies with their workforces well in advance to give HR and legal teams time to process and assess accommodation requests.

Access the article.




COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A

Can employers mandate some employees get the vaccine and not others? Is there an obligation to consider requiring a COVID-19 test before coming back to work? What are the potential workers’ compensation claims relating to possible adverse reactions to a vaccine? Should employers mandate vaccinations?

In this article, McDermott partners Carole Spink, Joseph Mulherin, Kathleen Quinn and Troy Van Dongen answer common employer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Q&A: What Will the Future World of Work Look Like?

As governments around the world move to end lockdown restrictions, employers are examining how—and if—to bring their employees back to work. In this video, McDermott partner Carole A. Spink provides insight into the challenges facing both employers and employees.

“The issue here in the US is a pragmatic one,” Spink notes. “How do you do that and get buy-in from employees and return them in a reasonable way?”

Access the video.




Global Employment Law Update

Employment law continues to evolve, and it can be a challenge amid an ever-changing landscape of local employment laws for human resources executives and employment counsel at multinational businesses to maintain a consistent global corporate culture.

McDermott’s Global Employment Law Update brings you the key highlights from across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin and North America. Developed in collaboration with peer firms operating in more than 50 countries, this resource guide contains summaries of the laws and significant court decisions that impacted employers and employees all over the world. It includes:

  • COVID-19 legislative updates
  • Remote work and telecommuting policies
  • Data privacy protections
  • Minimum wage and salary compensation updates
  • Changes to labor protection laws
  • Sexual harassment modifications

Access the report.




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