With COVID-19 vaccination rates increasing and public health metrics generally improving, many non-profit associations are considering bringing some or more employees back to the office this spring and/or summer. Now is a good time to conduct an office compliance check-up to make sure leadership is up to speed on the latest rules and recommendations.
1. State and Local Rules and Guidance. Based upon where your office is located, one must review the local and state emergency and executive orders (which are changing sometimes weekly) and the Department of Health guidance applicable to offices. These rules and guidance still typically mandate things like masks, physical distancing, health screenings and contact tracing. Resources:
2. Federal Rules and Recommendations. In addition to reviewing any applicable local and state health and safety rules, one should review the applicable federal rules and recommendations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). OSHA rules apply to all private sector employers and include a requirement that all employers must report to OSHA any work-related illness or injury that results in an employee’s hospitalization or death. Resources:
3. Can we require vaccinations? The short answer is Yes, employers can require, and, at a minimum, should encourage employees to get vaccinated prior to returning to the office. The longer answer is there are some exceptions for medical or religious exemptions that must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Resource: EEOC guidance on vaccines and other Title VII and ADA matters here - https://www.eeoc.gov/es/node/131879
4. Is your Employee Handbook up to date? Time to brush off your Employee Handbook and ensure that your sick leave, FMLA and ADA policies and procedures follow the latest laws and best practices. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided for new paid sick leave for certain covered employees and contractors. Resource: Department of Labor (DOL) guidance here - https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic
5. What if we want to stay Hybrid or Remote? For non-profit organizations that may decide to continue operating with a hybrid or full-time remote workforce, consult your legal and tax advisors regarding whether you may have new corporate and tax registrations and filings.
by Sarah E. Mooney, Partner, Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, LLP