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.