The ‘Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act’: Bill 32 Proposes Key Changes to Labour and Employment Legislation

On July 7, 2020, the Government of Alberta proposed important changes for workplaces through Bill 32, the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, 2020 (Bill 32). The stated purpose of Bill 32 is to increase investment in Alberta’s workforce and to reduce the administrative burden for employers. On July 29, 2020, Bill 32 received Royal Assent.

New York Federal Court Says DOL ‘Jumped the Rail’ When It Issued FFCRA Regulations

On August 3, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York upended several employer-friendly limitations in the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Specifically, the court struck down the DOL’s regulations regarding: (1) the requirement that employers actually have work available for employees in order to be eligible for leave; (2) the broad definition of “health care provider” under the final rule; (3) the requirement that employees obtain employer approval for intermittent leave; and (4) the requirement that employees provide documentation prior to taking FFCRA leave.

CDC Issues COVID-19 Communication Plan for Critical Infrastructure Employers

On August 4, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a communication plan titled “COVID-19 Communication Plan for Select Non-healthcare Critical Infrastructure Employers.” The purpose of the plan is to outline actions certain critical infrastructure employers may consider to disseminate COVID-19 messages with employees more effectively.

COVID-19 Orders Upon Orders—What Does It All Mean for St. Louis County Businesses?

Since March 2020, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, and the county’s acting director of the Department of Public Health (DPH), Dr. Emily Doucette, have issued more than 20 orders and “safe operating guidelines” regarding COVID-19. On July 29, 2020, with an effective date of July 31, 2020, the DPH issued its third amended public health order setting forth its current “Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening.” In some respects, this third amended order is a significant step backwards toward stricter requirements compared with the county’s original reopening guidelines.

Mexico’s COVID-19 Traffic Light Monitoring System: News for August 3–16, 2020

As part of Mexico’s national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government of Mexico has instituted a weekly traffic-light monitoring system with four criteria that each state must meet before proceeding to the next phase of the country’s reopening plan. Below is a map for the week of July 20, 2020, indicating the COVID-19 risk level in Mexico’s 32 states.

School’s Out for … Fall? Managing Employees’ Need to Care for Children When School Is Virtual

In March 2020, everyone thought we just need to occupy our children at home for a few weeks, maybe through spring break, and we would be fine. Then it was “just make it to summer.” Now summer is winding down and many kids are not going back to school full-time (at least not in person) any time soon. This creates tremendous challenges for families as well as employers.

FDIC Loosens Requirements for Employment With Financial Institutions

On July 24, 2020, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released a final rule to revise and codify into the agency’s regulations the FDIC’s Statement of Policy (SOP) on Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. Section 19 generally prohibits any person from participating in banking who has been convicted of a crime “involving dishonesty, breach of trust, or money laundering, or who has agreed to enter into a pretrial diversion or similar program in connection with a prosecution for any such offense,” without first obtaining written consent from the FDIC. The SOP provides guidance relating to Section 19 and the FDIC’s application of the statute.

Wisconsin Masks Up: Governor Evers Issues Statewide Face Covering Order

On July 30, 2020, Wisconsin joined 31 other states—including Alabama, California, and Pennsylvania—with a statewide face covering order. Governor Tony Evers issued Emergency Order #1, requiring all individuals in Wisconsin over the age of five and medically able to do so to don cloth face coverings (not including face shields or mesh coverings) any time they are “indoors or in an enclosed space, other than a private residence,” and in the presence of others outside their households.

20 Tips for U.S. Virgin Islands Employers in 2020: Accommodating Disabled or High-Risk Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Conducting business in the U.S. Virgin Islands poses unique challenges not often encountered in the states, but also unique opportunities. This 20-part series offers tips for doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, covering a broad array of topics affecting employers. Part nine of this series addresses the laws relevant to accommodating disabled or high-risk employees in the workplace.

ICE Issues Updated Guidance and Restricts Online Options for New Students for Fall 2020 Semester

On July 24, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued updated guidance for international students pursing education programs in the United States. The follow-up guidance states that active students in F-1 and M-1 status, as well as schools certified by SEVP, should abide by SEVP guidance originally issued in March 2020, enabling schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Louisiana Enacts Reforms During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Limits on Liability, Damages, and Changes to Evidentiary Rules

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards recently signed into law Act 336 of the 2020 Regular Session, which was filed in the Louisiana State Legislature as House Bill 826. The new act limits the liability to which Louisiana businesses and employers could be exposed due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. Specifically, the law creates two statutes—La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.25 and La. Rev. Stat. § 29:773—that limit the potential liability of businesses and employers operating in Louisiana for COVID-19 contractions and related injuries.

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: OSHA Removes Recently Published FAQs on Reporting Hospitalizations and Fatalities Due to COVID-19

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has withdrawn from its website—without public explanation—a controversial interpretation of its requirement to report in-patient hospitalizations of employees who contracted work-related cases of COVID-19.

Mexico’s COVID-19 Traffic Light Monitoring System: News for the Week of July 27, 2020

As part of Mexico’s national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government of Mexico has instituted a weekly traffic-light monitoring system with four criteria that each state must meet before proceeding to the next phase of the country’s reopening plan. Below is a map for the week of July 20, 2020, indicating the COVID-19 risk level in Mexico’s 32 states.

20 Tips for U.S. Virgin Islands Employers in 2020: Addressing COVID-19 Concerns When Employees Return From Vacation

Conducting business in the U.S. Virgin Islands poses unique challenges not often encountered in the states, but also unique opportunities. This 20-part series offers tips for doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, covering a broad array of topics affecting employers. Part eight of this series addresses COVID-19 concerns that may arise when employees return to work from vacation.

California Releases ‘COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening’

On July 24, 2020, the State of California released its “COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening.” According to the playbook, its purpose is to help employers “plan and prepare for reopening their business[es] and to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers.” The Employer Playbook’s table of contents lists four major areas that the playbook addresses: (1) steps employers can take to open safely; (2) what to do if a COVID-19 case occurs in the workplace; (3) enforcement and compliance; and (4) worker education. In addition, the playbook includes three appendixes consisting of employer and worker resources, enforcement and compliance contacts, and case studies illustrating the playbook’s principles.

California Issues Employer COVID-19 Playbook Guidance for Enforcing Mask Requirements

The State of California and many California counties mandate the use of face coverings in the workplace and elsewhere. California considers the issue important enough to include a section entitled “Guidance for Employers and Workers in Enforcing Mask Requirements” in its “COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening,” newly released on July 24, 2020.

Virginia Issues COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

On July 15, 2020, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board approved an Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 to be enforced by the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health program (VOSH). Virginia is the first state to adopt a specific standard intended to protect workers and “to control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of [COVID-19]” in the workplace.

OSHA Publishes New FAQs on Reporting Hospitalizations and Fatalities Due to COVID-19

On July 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a new interpretation of the hospitalization reporting requirement of 29 C.F.R. § 1904.39(b)(6), one that states that employers “must report the hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing both that the employee has been hospitalized and that the reason for hospitalization was COVID-19.”

Connecticut’s Mandatory Self-Quarantine Executive Order: 5 Things Employers Need to Know

On July 21, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7III, which made mandatory a previous advisory self-quarantine recommendation for individuals—including employees—traveling from states with high COVID-19 infection rates. While an exemption for essential travelers still applies, there were a number of changes

Missouri Tightens the Leash on Fake Fidos

On July 14, 2020, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill (SB) 644, increasing the potential penalties imposed on Missourians and visitors who attempt to pass off their pets as bona fide service dogs. While Missouri law previously made it a crime to impersonate an individual with a disability, now the misrepresentation of a dog as a valid and properly trained service animal is also a crime.

No Rest for the Weary—Government Contractors’ EEO-1 Deadline Delayed Due to COVID-19, but VETS-4212 Filings Still on Schedule

While the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) postponed the 2019 EEO-1 filing deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), which is in charge of the VETS-4212 filings, has taken no such action—which means that government contractors may want to begin preparing promptly for the September 30, 2020, filing deadline.

COVID-19 Detection Dogs in the Workplace: A Viable Option for Employers?

As employees return to work, some employers are asking if there could be another tool to detect COVID-19 in the workplace: detection dogs. Traditionally, the military has used detection dogs to find bombs, and law enforcement has used them to sniff out narcotics, guns, electronics, or other contraband. More recently, scientists and researchers have used detection dogs to identify medical conditions.

Mexico’s COVID-19 Traffic Light Monitoring System: News for the Week of July 20, 2020

As part of its response to COVID-19, the government of Mexico recently introduced a traffic-light monitoring system that classifies states with the help of four criteria that they must meet before proceeding to the next phase of Mexico’s reopening plan. Below is the map indicating the COVID-19 risk level in Mexico’s 32 states for the week of July 20, 2020.