This has been a challenging year for California employers navigating the COVID-19 pandemic with a set of ever-changing regulatory requirements, as well as a flurry of other new workplace safety laws the legislature passed towards the end of 2021. This update covered the latest legislative and rulemaking developments concerning COVID-19, including the second re-adopted COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. We also covered other laws creating new workplace safety requirements and expanding the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (DOSH) enforcement authority.
During this webinar, participants learned about: Read More
California Governor Newsom has signed legislation extending a new allotment of up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to California workers through new Labor Code Sections 248.6 and 248.7. The leave is retroactive to January 1, 2022, and continues through September 30, 2022. Small businesses that employ 25 or fewer workers are not covered by the legislation.
Use of Sick Leave for Reasons Related to COVID-19
The legislation provides for up to 40 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work or telework for certain reasons related to COVID-19, including:
The full 40 hours is available to Read More
In Western Growers Association, et al, v. Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, et al, the California appellate court recently affirmed the lower court’s decision denying a challenge to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). This decision has far-reaching implications, affording considerable deference to the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board’s (Board) rulemaking process and authority to bypass regular rulemaking with emergency temporary standards supported by its own “declaration of emergency.” The Board – which is tasked with promulgating workplace safety rules – has had an oversized role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As background, the Board’s COVID-19 ETS was approved, effective November 30, 2020, over the recommendation of Board staff finding that “Cal/OSHA’s limited resources should continue to be focused on enforcement and consultation outreach specifically targeted at employers and sectors of the economy with deficient COVID-19 protections,” as this is likely to be more effective than new rulemaking. Since then Cal/OSHA’s ETS has undergone numerous revisions, being “re-adopted” effective June 17, 2021 and then again on January 14, 2022. The regulation has been a moving target for employers, with the Board each time adopting modified text followed by updated FAQs. Read More
Since our blog post only a week ago concerning the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) guidance on isolation and quarantine periods and its implications for the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), the CDPH has revised this guidance (January 6, 2022) – this time clarifying quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated employees who are booster eligible, but have not yet received their booster dose. The updated guidance is otherwise unclear on how the other recommended actions apply to a workplace setting.
Then, late yesterday, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) issued answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on isolation and quarantine periods under Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS in light of CDPH’s January 6, 2022 recommendations. First, for the reasons we explained in our prior blog post, DOSH has recognized that the “new isolation and quarantine recommendations from CDPH replace the exclusion periods and return to work criteria in sections 3205(c)(9) and 3205(c)(10) of the ETS.”
Second, the FAQs note that the quarantine rules for fully vaccinated workers Read More
A full year into the Biden Administration, the senior leadership team at federal OSHA is set, the agency’s new regulatory agenda has been revealed, and the enforcement landscape has begun to take shape, revealing a dramatic shift in priorities, including stronger enforcement, higher budgets and more robust policies protecting workers, and a renewed focus on new rulemaking. Following an Administration that never installed an Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, relied almost exclusively on the General Duty Clause to enforce COVID-19 safety measures, drastically curtailed rulemaking, and declined to issue an emergency COVID-19 standard, the pendulum swing at OSHA has already been more pronounced than during past transitions. Accordingly, it is more important now than ever before for employers to stay attuned to developments at OSHA.
Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s complimentary 2022 OSHA Webinar Series, which includes monthly programs (sometimes more often, if events warrant) put on by the OSHA-focused attorneys in the firm’s national OSHA Practice Group, is designed to give employers insight into developments at OSHA during this period of unpredictability and significant change.
To register for an individual webinar in the series, click on the link in the program description below, or to register for the entire 2022 series, click here to send us an email request so we can get you registered. If you missed any of our programs over the past seven years of our annual OSHA Webinar Series, here is a link to a library of webinar recordings. If your organization or association would benefit from an exclusive program presented by our team on any of the subjects in this year’s webinar series or any other important OSHA-related topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.
CDC recently updated and shortened its recommended isolation and quarantine periods for the general population. To be precise, CDC issued a media statement laying out its new guidance, but CDC’s actual Isolation Guidance webpage has not yet been updated. CDC explained in a statement that “[b]oth updates [to the isolation and quarantine periods] come as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S. and reflects the current science on when and for how long a person is maximally infectious.”
Then just yesterday, California issued public health guidance that effectively aligns the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard’s (ETS) return-to-work criteria with this CDC guidance.
How Does CDC’s New Guidance Impact Isolation and Quarantine Periods?
With respect to isolation (which relates to behavior after a confirmed infection), CDC states: “[g]iven what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.” Explaining the change, CDC maintains that it is “motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days, and if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.”Read More
By Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s COVID-19 Task Force
As we shared over the weekend, at 6:50 PM on Friday night (December 17th), a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dissolved the nationwide stay of OSHA’s Vaccinate-or-Test ETS that had been issued in early November by the Fifth Circuit. That same night, several of the petitioners in the legal challenges to the ETS appealed the Sixth Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court.
As we have been discussing for a while, the decision about the Stay of the ETS (and ultimately the legality of the ETS) was destined for the Supreme Court, and the Court, at least on the issue of the TRO/Stay, could choose to address the question either by:
Each of the nine Justices on the US Supreme Court is assigned to oversee one or more of the regional US courts of appeals. Justice Kavanaugh is the justice assigned to the Sixth Circuit, to oversee requests for emergency review or shadow docket consideration from cases before the Sixth Circuit. Justice Kavanaugh is part of what is becoming something of a triad of swing voters on the Court, along with justice Coney Barrett and Chief justice Roberts.
On Monday, Justice Kavanaugh issued an Order to the Department of Labor to submit briefing in response to the emergency petitions with a deadline of 4 PM on Thursday, December 30th. The Order does not provide for any additional briefing by petitioners or friends of the court. Then, just a few hours ago, the Court issued another Order setting the case for oral argument a week later, on January 7, 2022.
We now have a clearer picture of Read More
By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force
In a Friday night surprise (December 17th), the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dissolved the nationwide stay of OSHA’s Vaccination, Testing, and Face Coverings ETS, so the ETS is alive and well (unless the U.S. Supreme Court puts it back on ice). Accordingly, it is time for employers to take the steps necessary to come into compliance with the ETS. To help our clients and friends in industry, Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s national OSHA Practice has created this extensive set of Q&As about OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccinate-or-Test ETS.
The Q&A document addresses the current status of the ETS and the legal challenges to it, who is covered and who is exempted from the rule, the core elements of the ETS (i.e., what is required and prohibited by the ETS, when the requirements kick-in), and other issues around enforcement and compliance strategy.
In addition to this FAQ resource, we have also been working with dozens of companies to help them develop custom, compliant written COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing, and Face Coverings Policies, along with the necessary ancillary forms, as required by the ETS. We have a questionnaire that we can work through with you to understand and make the best policy choices for your organization (e.g., what cap you will set for paid recovery time; whether to supply test kits to employees or require them to take tests offsite; how you will communicate to employees the information required to be shared; etc.), and with those answers, we develop a customized written program including: Read More
By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force
We apologize for interrupting what we hoped be a quiet, pre-holiday weekend for everyone, but we have very important and time sensitive news to share about the status of OSHA’s Vaccination, Testing, and Face Coverings Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). It was a very busy Friday night for everyone in the OSHA world. In a remarkable turn of events, at 6:50 PM yesterday evening (December 17th), the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dissolved the nationwide stay of OSHA’s Vaccination ETS that had been issued by the Fifth Circuit in November.
The Department of Labor and OSHA then immediately issued a statement that OSHA was moving forward with implementation and enforcement of the ETS, but also provided some enforcement relief for companies able to demonstrate good faith efforts to comply. Then, within an hour of the Sixth Circuit decision being released, numerous parties filed an emergency application and motion with the US Supreme Court requesting the Supreme Court reissue a stay of the ETS. And then, finally, shortly after midnight (approximately 1 AM last night), South Carolina along with 26 other State Attorneys General and a host of private entities also filed an emergency application for a stay. What a night.
We briefly summarize the Sixth Circuit’s decision below and explain the lay of the land as it stands at this moment, what might occur next and, most importantly, what this means for employers across the nation. Bottom line is that events are moving fast, but as we said a few weeks ago, do not put a fork in the ETS, and continue to prepare to come into compliance with it. It is alive and well, at least until we hear from the Supreme Court.
Sixth Circuit Decision
In a 2-1 opinion written by Obama-appointee Judge Jane Stranch and, notably, joined by Bush appointee Judge Julia Gibbons, the Sixth Circuit rescinded the nationwide stay of OSHA’s ETS that had been issued by the Fifth Circuit first an administrative stay on November 6th and then as a TRO on November 12th. The three-judge panel that heard the case consisted of one Obama appointee, one Bush (W.) appointee, and one Trump appointee. Judge Gibbons (the Bush appointee) joined Judge Stranch, but she also wrote a separate concurring opinion. Trump-appointee Judge Joan Larsen, who had purportedly been on a Trump’s short-list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court, dissented.
In a nutshell, the Court’s rationale for lifting the stay is that Read More