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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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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.

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Global Mobility: Trends Worldwide

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how governments confront issues as varied as global taxation, emigration and real estate. In this article published in Law.com, McDermott partner Nicholas Holland contributes his insight into these trends (and others) that are sweeping across Hong Kong, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands.

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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.

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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?”

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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

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Verifying Vaccination Status: What Employers Need to Know

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently offered employers leeway to relax safety rules for fully vaccinated workers. However, experts say that validating who is vaccinated is rife with potentially costly missteps. In an article published in Law360, McDermott partner Michelle S. Strowhiro said employers must be careful not to ask follow-up questions unless they are implementing a mandatory policy or “taking a position that vaccination status is job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

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