On October 9, 2021, Governor Newsom completed his review of the 836 bills passed to him by the Legislature and signed 770 of them. Within the many new California bills that were recently signed into law, two amend the Golden State’s workplace safety laws. First, Assembly Bill (AB) 654 creates important modifications to an employer’s COVID-19 exposure notice and reporting obligations. Second, Senate Bill (SB) 606 establishes new classes of health and safety violations and enhances liability.
As employers know, Cal/OSHA enacted COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”). Just recently, Cal/OSHA has published draft semi-permanent standards that, if enacted, would supersede the current ETS for a period of two or three years.
Earlier this month, employers heard that federal OSHA is planning to roll out a national vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers (i.e., employers with a workforce of at least 100 employees). While details of that mandate have not been made public yet, employers would do well to plan ahead.
By September 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force is required to publish the new safety COVID-19 protocols requirements for contractors and subcontractors. We are still waiting for these guidelines to be released. However, the Task Force released a FAQ on September 20, 2021, that provides some clarity relating to federal contractors and vaccination status requirements when working on government sites.
Employers in California are no longer able to require their employees to arbitrate work-related grievances. This stunning ruling was handed down yesterday by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In its decision, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the legality of California’s anti-arbitration law known as Assembly Bill 51.
On September 9, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that employers with 100 employees or more will be—in the near future— required to ensure that their workplace is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or otherwise subject to at least weekly COVID-19 testing before coming to work. It is estimated that the new rule will affect at least 80 million workers in the private sector.
In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) was enacted, creating a federal subsidy that fully covered COBRA premiums for qualified beneficiaries. These subsidies will end on September 30, 2021.
Any sexual harassment allegation must be taken seriously and must be thoroughly and timely investigated. Ignoring the problem, delaying an investigation, or retaliating against the victim are not options. The repercussions for doing so can be onerous.
The law on vaccination mandates is rapidly evolving—and, to the dismay of some, continues to affirm the legality of vaccine mandates.
The CDC has changed course again. Yesterday (July 27), the CDC issued new masking guidelines in response to the Delta variant of COVID-19. Effective July 27, 2021, the CDC recommends that all persons—vaccinated or otherwise—mask up indoors.