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A Tale of Two Workforces, and the Board’s Urgent Challenge

How should corporate boards respond to the Delta variant?

In this Forbes article, McDermott’s Michael Peregrine argues that the way in which a board responds to the challenge may “well define its future credibility on workforce culture concerns.”

“The new, Delta-prompted potential for intra-organizational clash is the latest and potentially one of the most significant of these concerns,” Peregrine writes.

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What Should Be in a Vaccination Policy?

Employers are facing a myriad of decisions as they consider vaccination requirements for their workforces.

Mandatory vaccine policies, for example, should include rationale for why they are required, McDermott partner Carole A. Spink said in this Society for Human Resource Management article. The scope of any policy should be clearly identified and explain which employees it applies to.

Read more here.




The Simple Question That Every Board Should Ask Its CEO This Week

As the Delta variant continues to spread across the United States, companies are once again having to make tough decisions. In this Forbes article, McDermott partner Michael Peregrine says corporate boards should ask their CEOs how they will respond to the pandemic’s latest development.

“At a time when most businesses were aggressively moving forward with long-stalled resiliency measures, they are countered by the equally aggressive Delta variant,” Peregrine writes.

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What if a Job Applicant Discloses a Disability?

What should employers do if a job applicant voluntarily discloses a disability during an interview?

In most cases, employers cannot ask disability-related questions until after an applicant receives a conditional job offer, according to McDermott’s Laurie A. Baddon in this Society for Human Resource Management article. Once the employer makes a conditional offer, the employer can ask disability-related questions and require medical examinations for any applicant. Employers can ask applicants about their ability to perform essential job duties with or without accommodation.

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California Requires Vaccines or Regular COVID-19 Testing for Certain Healthcare Workers and State Employees

On July 26, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a new Order that impacts healthcare and state employers in California. According to McDermott’s Michelle S. Strowhiro, Ellen M. Bronchetti and Ludia Kwon, the CDPH Order requires that almost all healthcare employers verify the vaccination status of all of their workers.

The Order also requires workers who are not fully vaccinated to go through regular COVID-19 testing at specified intervals. These facilities also must have a plan in place for tracking verified worker vaccination statuses.

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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.

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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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