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Just How Many Employers Will Mandate Vaccines?

An August Willis Towers Watson poll found that 52% of 961 surveyed companies intend to implement at least one vaccine mandate by 2021’s fourth quarter. In a poll in May, 72% of respondents said they had no plans to require vaccines.

To encourage vaccination, some employers—like Delta Air Lines—are introducing or considering company healthcare plan surcharges for unvaccinated employees. However, in this article published via Advisory Board, McDermott Partner Judith Wethall said few employers have actually “pulled the trigger” on such a move.

Access the article.




Red Tape, Legal Risk Douse Fervor for Surcharges on Unvaccinated

Companies curious about a major airline’s unvaccinated healthcare premium surcharge are discovering that it may be too complex to copy. The airline recently announced that unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s health plan would see a $200 monthly surcharge. In this Bloomberg Law article, McDermott Partner Judith Wethall said the compliance hurdles are “tricky and kind of dilute the message.”

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Companies Eye Financial Penalties for Unvaccinated Workers

As companies consider whether or not to introduce vaccine mandates for employees, there is interest among some employers to increase health care premiums or impose financial penalties on employees who refuse vaccination. One major airline, for example, recently announced that unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s health plan would see a $200 monthly surcharge. However, according to McDermott Partner Judith Wethall in The Hill, financial penalties for the unvaccinated are legally complicated, and vaccine mandates likely pose less regulatory issues for employers to impose.

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OSHA Updates COVID-19 Safety Guidance for All Industries

On August 13, 2021, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its COVID-19 guidance documents for employers in all industries. The new recommendations echo those published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 27, 2021, and build upon OSHA’s healthcare industry requirements.

In some of its most powerful language yet (and stopping just short of an absolute requirement), OSHA “strongly encourages” employers to provide paid time off to workers for the time it takes for them to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects.

Read more here.




Mask Up, Vax Up: Illinois Governor Issues Immediate Face Covering Mandate for All, COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare, School and State Workers and Students

On August 26, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2021-20 (the Order). The Order mandates that all individuals in Illinois who are at least two years old and who are medically able must wear face coverings indoors and in other specified settings.

In addition, the Order mandates COVID-19 vaccination for certain professionals in healthcare and education, as well as for students and state employees, subject to certain exemptions which require regular COVID-19 testing.

Read more here.




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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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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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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OSHA’s COVID-19 Requirements for Healthcare Employers Take Effect

On June 21, 2021, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) long-anticipated Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 requirements in the healthcare industry went into effect. Most of the requirements must be followed by July 6, 2021; the remainder (on implementing physical barriers, improved ventilation systems and employee trainings) must be implemented no later than July 21, 2021, according to McDermott’s Abigail M. Kagan and Michelle S. Strowhiro. OSHA’s COVID-19 safety requirements are workplace-specific. Employers who have some employees working in a patient setting and other employees working in a corporate setting may need to follow the requirements only for the patient-based setting.

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Business Leaders Must Confront the Corporate Impact of the CDC Mask Controversy

When the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed its mask guidance in May, the news caught many people—especially corporate America—off guard.

In this Forbes article, McDermott partner Michael W. Peregrine argues that companies need to provide stakeholders with clear health and safety messaging in light of mandates from state and local governments.

“Companies can ill-afford to drift in the wind of confusion and controversy, and they can’t be blindsided by further guidance change should there be an increase in reported cases or should variants, like those first found in India, surface in the United States,” Peregrine writes.

Access the article.




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