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Continued COVID Guidance: New OSHA ETS, FFCRA Update, Mask Mandates and Re-Entry following Travel

June 2021 OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard

 More guidance has been issued from OSHA, directed at healthcare industry employers such as hospitals, emergency responders, long term care, etc. The new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Covid-19 went into effect June 10, 2021.  You can find a great summary here that also includes a link to the flowchart on OSHA.gov. 

 

June 2021 COVID & FFCRA Update

The FFCRA was mandatory for many employers until December 31 of 2020.  The previous administration extended the paid leave provisions of the FFCRA through March 31, 2021 – however, the extension was no longer mandatory. If employers chose to provide paid leave benefits due to COVID, they were still eligible to receive the tax credit to offset the costs of paying employee leave.  Additionally, President Biden extended the FFCRA provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) through September 30, 2021.  Biden also added some new components of the paid leave, which include:

•    Additional reasons employees can take paid leave
       o    Time spent in order to get the vaccine
       o    Time from work missed due to complications from the vaccine 
•    The 80 hour limit reset on April 1, 2021
       o    Meaning if an employee exhausted their Paid Sick Leave before March 31, 2021 – they are entitled to an                     additional 80 hours 

In addition to the extension of the FFCRA paid leave, Biden included a COBRA subsidy in the ARPA that employers should be aware of.  The COBRA subsidy is available to employees who experience an involuntary termination of employment or a reduction in hours (the reduction in hours is not required to be involuntary). The ARPA does not define ‘involuntary termination of employment’ and the IRS has not provided guidance on this yet.  The COBRA subsidy is available under September 30, 2021 and employers are entitled to an advanceable, refundable tax credit against their Medicare payroll taxes to pay for the coverage during this period of time. 

Compliance Update for Ohio Employers

Per CDC guidelines, those who are fully vaccinated can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic. In Ohio, DeWine has stated that business may require customers to wear masks if they choose.  Many businesses have opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter without masks, but still require masks for unvaccinated individuals. 

Additionally, those who are planning to travel out of the country should be aware of current protocol regarding reentry.  The United States is still requiring either a negative COVID test or proof that you had COVID in the past 90 days to reenter the country – having a vaccine card alone is not sufficient for reentry.  Also, the CDC is encouraging international travelers to get tested 3-5 days after reentry, but vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine.  


 

Most Recent

Are Missing Group Retro Refunds Complicating Your Budget for 2022?

Posted By Brandy King
November 09, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Workers Comp, Group Retro, Retro Refunds, 2018 Policy Year, PEO

Back in August, we told you that Ohio BWC wouldn’t be paying Group Retrospective refunds to employers who participated in Retro during the 2018 and 2019 policy years.  For the past 12 years, many businesses have counted on those checks to budget for the coming year. Normally, Retro refunds would have showed up last month (October), but this time those employers were left empty-handed.  Companies that were anticipating tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands, in some cases) in Retro Refunds are now faced with an end of year shortfall and difficulty budgeting.  Our actuarial department estimates that Group Retro refund totals for all participating policyholders during the 2018 and 2019 policy years would have been as follows: •    $190,000,000 for the 2018 policy year   •    $155,000,000 for the 2019 policy year  That’s $345 Million in refunds not being paid back! If you are concerned with how the state is managing your premium dollars - and more importantly, your refunds - you have options. Self-insuring is one option, or you can look into a partnership with SuretyHR through our Self-Insured PEO program. This provides a lot of the same savings and benefits of self-insuring for workers’ comp, but without the risk and financial burden of directly paying excess

BWC to Host Open Forum on ACES

Posted By Brandy King
October 07, 2021 Category: ACES, Ohio BWC, Workers Compensation, Ohio BWC, Ohio Workers Compensation, Underwriting, ACES, MIRA II, EMR, Insurance Premiums

On October 14, BWC will host an open forum with TPAs to discuss the impact of their new reserve system called ACES.  Spooner’s goal is to convince BWC that this system is overestimating reserves for lost time claims (as well as some medical only claims) that will have a dramatic effect on Group Retro refunds for the 2020 policy year and future years. This could also have a negative impact on employers’ EMRs for the 2023 policy year. BWC implemented this new system of calculating reserves in January 2021. As early as June, we began noticing reserves jumping to nearly 4-5 times what they would have been under the previous system and industry standard, MIRA II. We shared another update in August, after reviewing the first round of results for 2020 Group Retro and finding that 68% of pools could face a first year assessment, as opposed to getting a refund from the program.  These open forums held by BWC are a platform for TPAs to voice concerns over certain policy and procedure changes that may negatively impact Ohio businesses. Spooner is an Ohio business, and our family of companies make it a priority to fight for policy changes that will have a positive impact on the business community that we’re so proud to be a part

Is Our Company Required To Train Employees in First Aid and CPR?

Posted By Brandy King
October 07, 2021 Category: OSHA, First Aid, CPR, AED, Medical Treatment, First Responder Training, Safety Training, Safety, Compliance

One question that our safety team gets across nearly all industries is, “Am I required to have my employees certified to perform first aid and CPR?” OSHA requires that in the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital within near proximity to the workplace – one or more staff members should be adequately trained to provide first aid. While the standards do not specify exactly how close by, OSHA has long interpreted the term "near proximity" to mean that emergency care must be available within no more than 3-4 minutes from the workplace. One option these standards provide employers is to ensure that a member of the workforce has been trained in first aid. This option is a feasible and low-cost way to protect employees, as well as putting the employer clearly in compliance with the standards. OSHA recommends that every workplace include one or more employees who are trained and certified in first aid, including CPR. While AED training is not specifically addressed or required by the standard, including that in your CPR training is recommended.   The team at Spooner Safety will now be offering first aid and CPR training to businesses that would like to certify members of their team as either a requirement or best practice. Please contact Jeremy Smith at 440-249-5696 | Ext: 154 for more

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