In this episode, Jasper Hoffstedde and Dennis Veldhuizen shed light on the works council’s purpose and added value in the decision-making process. For U.S.-based listeners, Dennis’ quick side-by-side comparison of union vs works council rights may be of interest. Furthermore, all of the basics are explained:

https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/works-council-under-dutch-law

Chief Impact Officer is a position that has become more common in recent years, and the role and expected impact of the person in that position depends on the organization.. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-news/pages/addition-to-the-csuite-chief-impact-officer.aspx

Just as thousands of California employers thought COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) was about to come to an end, Governor Newsom is set to sign an extension into law – which will push the current expiration date of September 30 to December 31, 2022. However, there is a silver lining for employers as Assembly Bill 152 makes two employer-friendly changes to the SPSL requirements and enacts a relief grant for qualified small businesses to recover expenses related to providing SPSL. Although AB 152 has not officially gone into effect, once it passes the legislature and is signed by Governor Newsom — both of which seem inevitable at this point — it will take immediate effect as a budget trailer bill. What do employers need to know about this significant development?

Required SPSL Remains the Same

Although AB 152 will require employers with more than 25 employees to provide SPSL for an additional three months, it will not entitle employees to a new bucket of leave provided under current SPSL requirements. Nor does it change the qualifying reasons for which employees may use SPSL.

Thus, employers should continue to implement and follow the leave requirements set forth in the original SPSL law. For a summary of California SPSL requirements, we recommend you read our summary here. As a brief reminder, full-time employees are entitled to a maximum of 80 hours of SPSL, which is divvied into two “buckets” comprised of up to 40 hours of leave each for different purposes with separate requirements.

Employer-Friendly Changes Related to Testing

Under the expected new law, if an employee tests positive and the employer requires the employee to submit to a diagnostic test five days which demonstrates a positive result, the employer may then require the employee to submit to a second diagnostic test within no less than 24 hours. Additionally, employers do not have to provide additional SPSL to an employee who tests positive and refuses to provide documentation or submit to the aforementioned testing.

Small Business and Nonprofit COVID-19 Relief Grant

AB 152 also establishes the California Small Business and Nonprofit COVID-19 SPSL Relief Grant Program to assist qualified small businesses or nonprofits that are incurring costs for SPSL up to $50,000. It will be repealed on January 1, 2024, however.

To qualify for the SPSL Relief Grant, the business or nonprofit must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Is a “C” or “S” corporation, cooperative, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, or a registered 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or 501(c)(19);
  • Began operating before June 1, 2021;
  • Is currently active and operating;
  • Has 26 to 49 employees and provides payroll data and an affidavit attesting to that fact;
  • Has provided SPSL pursuant to the requirements of Lab. Code §§ 248.6 and 248.7; and
  • Provides organizing documents.

There are a number of exemptions that exclude certain businesses or nonprofits from being eligible for SPSL Relief Grant, however. You will want to coordinate with your legal counsel before seeking relief.

Local SPSL Ordinances

Employers must also keep in mind that there are a few local jurisdictions in California with their own SPSL ordinances that are tied to their respective COVID-19 emergency declaration period. If you are in any of these jurisdictions, you may count leave provided under one of these local ordinances toward your SPSL obligation under AB 152 so long as the leave was provided for the same reasons and compensates the employee in an amount equal to or greater than what is required under AB 152.

Conclusion

We will continue to monitor these developments, so make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Insight system to keep up with the most up-to-date information. Please contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, the author of this Insight, or any attorney in our California offices should you have any questions.

 

 

Washington, D.C. employers whose workers earn tips as wages must rovide mandatory sexual harassment training to their owners/operators and employees.

Employers enhanced their mental health and well-being benefits for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic and are poised to continue expanding these offerings in 2023…. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/employer-health-plans-poised-to-expand-mental-health-coverage-in-2023.aspx

Employers may soon have a welcome alternative to the long-standing and often-cumbersome process that requires an in-person inspection of I-9 documents at the time a new worker is onboarded. On August 18, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed Rule that would allow the government to consider possible “alternative options for document examination procedures” for employees, including the option of reviewing employees’ I-9 documents on a remote basis. What do employers need to know about this exciting new development – and when might this brave new future arrive?

The Established Rule: In-Person Document Review

Since the Form I-9 became a requirement for all U.S. employers hiring new employees, one key rule has remained unchanged: within three days after the employees’ first day of employment, employees’ supporting documents had to be reviewed in person. This review can be completed by someone employed by the employer (usually a member of HR, a location manager, or someone else on the employer’s payroll) or by an appointed “authorized representative.” 

This in-person review requires the reviewer to certify that the document(s) presented are “genuine” and “relate to” the person providing them. Even if you had an authorized representative complete and sign the form on your behalf, the government warns that you remain liable for any verification violations, including accepting fraudulent documentation.

In short, employers had two choices when filling out page 2 of the I-9:

  • have a company employee view the documents in person, or
  • if a company employee was not available, say, because the new hire was located thousands of miles away from the nearest company worksite, ask someone else in the new hire’s community – with no connection to the company – to act on the company’s behalf.  

Enter the COVID-19 Pandemic

As previously reported, USCIS has relaxed its in-person review rule since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing employers to remotely review — by Zoom, video chat, facetime, fax, or other electronic means — employees’ identity and work-authorization documents that are necessary for workers’ Forms I-9 during the hiring and reverification process. These “relaxed” rules have applied where workplaces were temporarily shut down due to the pandemic, or where new hires and employees needing to update temporary work authorizations were subject to quarantine or no-travel orders. Nonetheless, even the “relaxed” rules require eventual in-person review of documents.

Many observers expected the temporary rules to end in early 2022. But with the most recent announcement by ICE extending the flexibility through at least the end of October, we predicted that DHS and ICE might consider amending the I-9’s document review rules to allow for some form of remote document review. Last week’s announcement confirms that prediction is very likely to come true.

How Will DHS Decide on Alternative Remote Document Review Procedures?

The proposed Rule itself – formally entitled “Optional Alternatives to the Physical Document Examination Associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9)” – will not establish new remote document review protocols. Instead, the Rule will allow DHS to create pilot programs to test the efficacy and compliance of potential alternative remote I-9 document examination procedures. 

As noted in last week’s release, the proposed Rule would also allow the Secretary to implement remote document review rules “as a temporary measure to address a public health emergency…or a national emergency declared by the President.” The Rule would require any proposed alternative document review procedures to have “an equivalent level of security” to the current in-person document review requirements in order to pass muster.  

What are the Potential Benefits of Remote Document Review?

The potential benefits to a remote document review procedure are obvious. They may include allowing your human resources staff to examine and verify I-9 documents from a single location or remotely instead of performing the verification at each location or using an authorized representative on your behalf. 

If adopted, employers with regional or nationwide operations would be able to assign a dedicated, well-trained team of HR professionals to run I-9 compliance for the entire company from a single location, or even remotely. In our experience, centralization of I-9 compliance is often key to increased compliance and lower potentially costly I-9 error rates.

Additional potential benefits include:

  • Newly hired and rehired employees, and employees needing to reverify documents working remotely, will not have to make a special trip to an employer location. This will save both your organization and your employees time and money.
  • With permanent remote document review rules in place, you may be more likely to consider a geographically broader pool of candidates for hire. Further, candidates for employment will have a broader scope of potential employers for remote-based jobs.

Will There Be a Cost to My Company?

Eventual alternative remote document review procedures may include “acquisition and set-up costs for any new information technology that may be needed” to comply with the procedure.  It is not clear exactly what this means, but it may signal a potential requirement that employers (or their designated contractors) run remotely received documents through a computer system that has the capability of spotting and flagging potentially fraudulent documents.  

In addition to possible IT requirements, DHS could condition participation in an alternative remote document review program on various requirements. For example, the agency could require you to sign up for E-Verify to take advantage of the flexible new Rule. DHS might also require you to copy and retain images of all Form I-9 documents presented by employees (whether remotely or in person) or require those charged with I-9 processing and compliance to attend fraudulent document detection and anti-discrimination training.” All of these potential requirements would pose additional costs to employers, especially those who do not already participate in E-Verify.

Remote I-9 Verification Remains in Place – For Now

This proposal by federal immigration officials does not affect the current remote I-9 verification flexibility policy, which is in place to October 31, 2022.

Under this temporary policy, employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, who work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions are temporarily exempt from the I-9’s physical inspection requirements until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis – or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated by DHS, whichever is earlier. You can read more about compliance with this rule here.

What Should I Do Next?

While this proposed Rule does not establish a new remote document review procedure, it will allow DHS to undertake steps towards determining if such procedures would feasible and have “equivalent level of security” to the current in-person document review requirements. The proposal will need to go through a standard notice-and-comment period through at least mid-October before being adopted. We anticipate that the new Rule will not take effect until at least the first quarter of 2023 at the earliest, but we will monitor the situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are signed up for Fisher Phillips’ Insight system to ensure you receive the latest news.

Fisher Phillips will be participating in the public comment process. If you would like to provide your comments to a Fisher Phillips immigration compliance attorney, please reach out to your Fisher Phillips attorney or contact one of the authors of this Insight or any attorney on our Immigration Team. If you wish to submit comment directly to DHS, multiple avenues are listed in the NPRM for submitting comments.  

It’s important to understand the risks and how to successfully manage internal transfers to benefit both employees and the company.

What are some practical methods to reduce stress at work? How do I make the case to continue working remotely while my company returns to the office? SHRM President and… https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/ask-hr-how-can-i-manage-stress-in-the-workplace.aspx

The nation’s federal health authorities marked the next chapter of the pandemic yesterday by significantly loosening many COVID-19 recommendations – including dropping the “six-foot” social distancing rule – thereby lightening employers’ burden to manage the virus. While the CDC’s August 11 announcement of revised guidelines comes as a welcome step in the years-long battle against the novel coronavirus, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to drop your guard and pretend that COVID-19 is gone completely. Here are the 10 top questions you should be asking now, along with practical answers to help you navigate this next phase.

  1. Why did the CDC loosen its COVID-19 recommendations?

    “The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti said yesterday in a news briefing accompanying the release of the revised guidance. Rather than attacking the virus in every possible situation, the new guidance reflects the fact that a combination of vaccinations and therapeutics have curbed severe illness and death from COVID-19, and emphasis should now be placed on protecting high-risk individuals.

  2. What is the practical impact of the revisions?

    Essentially the CDC is putting most of the burden on avoiding and dealing with COVID-19 on individuals instead of employers and businesses.

  3. What are the CDC’s new guidelines for social distancing and the six-foot rule?

    In perhaps the biggest change to the nation’s approach to the virus, the CDC says that the six-foot social distancing rule – which has mostly fallen by the wayside for most of the country anyway – is no longer emphasized. Although distancing is still one way to mitigate the likelihood of infection, it is now just one of many other methods suggested by the CDC.

  4. Should employers routinely screen apparently healthy employees for potential COVID-19 cases?

    The CDC says this is no longer necessary. Instead, when considering whether to implement screening testing for asymptomatic people with no known exposure to COVID-19, the only workplace settings recommended to go this route include those with congregate housing and limited access to medical care.

  5. What about contact tracing after positive cases?

    The CDC now only recommends case investigation and contact tracing in healthcare settings and certain “high-risk congregate settings” like nursing homes. In all other circumstances, the CDC says that public health efforts should instead focus on notifying those potentially exposed to positive COVID-19 cases and providing accurate information and testing resources to them.

  6. When should individuals get a COVID-19 test?

    According to the CDC, people should only seek testing when they are either symptomatic or have a known or suspected exposure to someone with COVID-19. 

  7. What should workers do if exposed to COVID-19?

    Quarantine of exposed persons is no longer recommended – regardless of vaccination status. This is another significant change, as the CDC previously recommended that unvaccinated individuals quarantine for at least five days after exposure. Instead, the CDC recommends that those who have been exposed to an infected person wear a mask for 10 days around others when indoors in public. They should also test for COVID-19 at least five days after exposure (or sooner if they are symptomatic) – again, irrespective of their vaccination status.

  8. What should workers do if they are symptomatic or infected?

    The CDC still recommends that symptomatic or infected persons promptly isolate and remain in isolation for at least five days. If they must be around others, they should wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask or respirator.

    • The CDC says they can end isolation after five days only when they are without a fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of medication) and all other symptoms have improved. However, the CDC does not recommend that a person take a test to exit isolation. Just as before, though, they should continue to wear a mask or respirator around others at home and in public through day 10.
    • People who have access to antigen tests and choose to use testing to determine when they can discontinue masking should wait to take the first test until at least day six, and they are without a fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and all other symptoms have improved. Taking two antigen tests (with at least 48 hours between tests) provides more reliable information, the CDC says, because of improved test sensitivity. The CDC says two consecutive test results must be negative to discontinue masking. If either test result is positive, the person should continue to wear a mask around others and continue testing every 48 hours until they have two straight negative results.
  9. What are the CDC’s guidelines on vaccines and masking?

    These recommendations have not changed.

    • Vaccines – The CDC says it is important to continue to increase vaccination coverage and ensure that everyone is up to date with boosters. It recommends that vaccination is still an essential strategy in curbing the impact of COVID-19, so you should consider this recommendation as you decide whether to mandate the vaccine for your workers and patrons (here is a helpful resource to consider when making this decision at your place of business).
    • Masking – The CDC has retained its “community level” stance in recommending masking based on the current levels of COVID-19 in the local area.
      • At the low Community Level, the CDC has no masking recommendations.
      • At the medium Community Level, the CDC recommends adding masking or respirator protections for those at high risk for severe illness.
      • At the high Community Level, the CDC recommends that all persons wear masks indoors in public settings like workplaces and businesses.
  10. What does OSHA say about all of this?

    For employers concerned about legal liability, this is the million-dollar question. After all, the CDC has no enforcement authority and will not be the agency knocking on your door to inspect your workplace safety. Instead, that falls on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or its state equivalents across the country. OSHA is the workplace safety arm of the Department of Labor that has the power to investigate and cite businesses for unsafe conditions. We have already seen OSHA levy massive fines against employers for allegedly not following COVID-19 safety protocols, so this is the agency whose opinion matters most.

    The bad news is that OSHA has not updated its own COVID-19 workplace safety recommendations regarding for almost a year. Instead, its website says “UPDATE COMING SOON” – the same message that has appeared there since at least March 2022. The good news is that OSHA largely defers to the CDC when it comes to pandemic-related guidance, and we fully expect the agency to eventually adopt these recommendations as best practices.

    For now, businesses choosing to follow the new CDC guidelines should point to them if OSHA comes knocking at their door inquiring about COVID-19 protocols. It would certainly be imprudent for OSHA to cite and fine an employer for strictly following the CDC’s guidelines absent unusual circumstances.

Conclusion

We will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Insight System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact the authors of this Insight, your Fisher Phillips attorney, or any member of our Workplace Safety Practice Group.