Use these tips and tools to stay on track of evolving laws and regulations around federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Update January 13, 2022:
On Jan. 13, 2022, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration mandate that required workers at companies with 100 or more employees to mandate coronavirus vaccinations or start weekly testing of workers.
Despite the ruling, President Joe Biden called on states and employers to enforce vaccination requirements voluntarily to protect their workers, customers, and the communities.
In a separate ruling, the court allowed a mandate requiring healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal money to be vaccinated.
Original post November 1, 2021:
Want to dive deeper? Listen or watch this episode of the POPS! The People Ops Podcast with Senior People Ops Advisor, Lora Patterson.
HR has a lot on their plate. They have to manage hiring retention, terminations and employee relationships. And then on top of all of that, they have to keep their companies compliant with any city, state or federal regulations.
It’s a lot to take on. And in the last year and a half, HR departments have been through an unusual amount of regulations and it can feel like requirements are changing far too rapidly to keep up.
With COVID-19 vaccination regulations coming soon, here are some tips and tools from Senior People Ops Advisor, Lora Patterson, for the best ways to stay up to date with the ever-changing laws and regulations that may apply.
First: Know your risks
People new to HR want to know: “if I don’t do X, Y, and Z, what could potentially happen to me?” And the frustrating reality: the answer depends. Different laws across different states and different sized organizations, have different repercussions.
For example, here are three federal laws that apply to most employers that you need to make sure you’re following.
The Fair Labor Standards Act. This law establishes minimum wage, overtime record keeping, and youth employment standards. Violating these regulations could result in fines ranging from $2,000 – $10,000.
Misclassifying workers. One example making headlines is misclassification between an employee and a contractor. The IRS says that failing to provide a W2 form can subject an employer to back taxes (for up to 3 years) and as much as 41.5% of the contractor’s wages. The company may also get an audit, which may then uncover other wage and hour violations. Then state insurance companies and departments of labor may also seek some sort of back repayment on unemployment insurance and workers’ comp premiums.
If a company were to willfully violate this law, they could be prosecuted criminally, and the violator could be fined as much as $500,000 for a corporation and could even face a criminal conviction and a year in jail.
And that’s just for contractors, if you were to misclassify exempt employees that could result in its own back-pay and an overtime wages that are owed to that employee.
Workplace poster requirements
Another thing to consider as a lot of federal laws have poster requirements for employers to ensure communication. Just like it sounds, the requirement is to put up a poster in your workplace, to make sure everyone can see it and knows what benefits apply to them.
The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires that benefits need to be posted in the workplace. The penalty for not posting is $173.
For example, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires that benefits need to be posted in the workplace. The penalty for not posting is $173. Separately, willful violation of posting requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, could cost violators from $9,500 – $133,000. OSHA also has a helpful site that reviews all of their penalties — which include more than just willful violations.
We don’t mention these laws to make companies panic, but instead to realize how important it is that your company has at least one person keeping an eye on compliance.
Tips for staying compliant
Take advantage of free resources and regularly monitor them:
1. Local and state sites for employers
2. Federal sites: Department of Labor, CDC, OSHA and EEOC
3. Zenefits 2021 Compliance Calendar: A customizable calendar that integrates 100+ key compliance dates, deadlines and reminders right into your iCalendar, Google Calendar or Outlook
4. Newsletters. A lot of legal groups and states have their own newsletters or even their own training that comes with credits that you can earn through HRCI and SHRM.
In addition, paid HR and Payroll Advisory Services and HR Libraries with details on existing and emerging employment laws are available from companies like Zenefits.
One more thing: vaccine mandates
In early September, President Joe Biden outlined his COVID-19 Action Plan which included a vaccine mandate that will affect many employers. It’s an example of the ever-changing nature of employment law.
Employers with a hundred and more employees are now going to have to either require the vaccine or conduct weekly testing.
One of the biggest impacts is that employers with a hundred and more employees are now going to have to either require the vaccine or conduct weekly testing. To help employees get their vaccine, employers may also need to provide time off to get vaccinated or even recover from those side effects.
As of December 20, the Biden administration rule we outlined above is back on.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay on the rule on Dec. 17. However, the U.S. Supreme Court could decide to block it again.
At Workest, will be following up and provide more information around this law as soon as we get it. Our hope is that your main takeaway from all of this is that it’s important for employers to make compliance a priority. And while this can be overwhelming, there are resources out there that can help you stay on top of these, and reclaim a little peace of mind.
Download your 2021 Compliance Calendar here today.
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