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On December 27, 2021, the CDC shortened its recommended isolation and quarantine periods for confirmed positive cases of Covid and well as cases of exposure to confirmed positive cases of Covid-19. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (“KDHE”) has adopted the CDC’s guidance as set forth below:
OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard Policies
Under OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”), employers are required to develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead establish, implement, and enforce a policy allowing employees to elect either to get vaccinated or to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at the workplace. To assist employers in meeting this requirement, OSHA has provided two (2) sample policies for employers to adapt to their organization:
OSHA ETS Stay Lifted
On Friday, December 17, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit lifted the stay blocking OSHA from implementing and enforcing the Private Employer Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”). OSHA has announced it will begin implementing and enforcing the requirements of the ETS with modified deadlines. This decision does not affect the national stay placed on the Federal Contractor mandate or the Missouri and Louisiana injunctions enjoining the CMS mandate in twenty-five (25) states, including Kansas.
Who must comply with OSHA’s ETS:
On November 22, 2021, Governor Kelly signed House Bill 2001 (“HB 2001”) into law. HB 2001 consists of two main components: (1) Employer COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements and Exemptions; (2) and Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits.
Employer COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements and Exemptions
HB 2001 requires an employer who implements a COVID-19 vaccine requirement to exempt an employee from such requirement, without punitive action, if the employee submits a written waiver request to the employer stating that complying with the requirement would:
Pursuant to Executive Order 1402, issued September 9, 2021, and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”) Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Guidance, updated November 10, 2021, Federal Contractors and Subcontractors with a covered contract will be required to conform to the following workplace safety protocols:
Who must comply with OSHA’s ETS:
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), employees have a right to request an accommodation for a “sincerely held” religious belief. Employers must provide a reasonable accommodation for workers who have “sincerely held” religious beliefs, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship on the employer. To respond to an employee’s request for a religious accommodation, HR Partners recommends the following steps:
Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors
On September 9, 2021, President Biden released his COVID-19 Action Plan, Path Out of the Pandemic (“Plan”). As part of the Plan, President Biden signed Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. Pursuant to the Order, on September 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force released Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Guidance, which contains three major workplace safety protocols:
President Biden signed an Executive Order on September 9, 2021, that outlines the coronavirus vaccine mandate for Federal Contractors. This order instructed the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”) to issue guidance by September 24, 2021, explaining requirements and exceptions to the mandate.
FOR KANSAS CLIENTS ONLY
The quarantine guidance for vaccinated individuals exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 depends on if the exposure was from someone within the household. If the exposure comes from a household contact, the KDHE requires that the fully vaccinated individual get tested 3-5 days after the initial exposure and re-test again 7-10 days after exposure. The KDHE guidance also states that fully vaccinated individuals that are close household contacts with a confirmed or suspected case should mask in indoor settings for 14 days after their last exposure. While the KDHE recommends this practice for all exposures, it is specifically required if the exposure comes from a household contact. Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine while waiting for test results after exposure to COVID-19 as long as they remain without symptoms.
On December 20, 2020, Congress reached an agreement on a second stimulus package that will provide immediate aid to both individuals and businesses. This bill now must be signed by the President in order to become law. The bill will impact both the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and loans established under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).
FFCRA. Under the bill, the FFCRA is still set to expire on December 31, 2020. However, employers may voluntarily elect to continue to provide FFCRA leave (both paid sick and paid family leave) and receive tax credits until March 31, 2021. The leave under the FFCRA does not renew. This means that any employee who has exhausted their paid leave under the FFCRA will no longer be eligible for FFCRA leave.
PPP. The second stimulus package also impacts the PPP by allocating 284 billion dollars for a second round of PPP loans, as well as clarifying PPP forgivable expenses and tax deductions for PPP expenses for both the original and second round of PPP loans. Most notably, the second stimulus package will provide the following: