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COVID Updates: FFCRA Leave and Workplace Vaccinations

Although business at many workplaces has slowed due to the holidays, the federal government was hard at work, providing new coronavirus-related information that impact the workplace.

As you may recall from when the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act was enacted earlier this spring, employers were required to provide eligible employees with FFCRA leave through December 31, 2020. Beginning on January 1, FFCRA leave is voluntary as part of the new coronavirus stimulus relief act that was recently passed. Although employers will receive a tax credit for employees on FFCRA leave through March 2021, employers are not required to provide this leave. Important to note: It does not reset, therefore if an employee used any hours in 2020, the remaining balance carries into 2021 but will not be replenished whether at the current employer or any other employer. We at HRinDemand believe it is in the employers’ best interest to continue providing this leave to protect their workplaces.

Secondly, the EEOC has updated their coronavirus FAQ page to answer employer questions regarding the new coronavirus vaccination. (source – see section K for vaccinations)

The EEOC stated the coronavirus vaccination is not a medical examination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but questions that health care providers ask before administering the vaccination (to ensure the individual can safely receive the vaccine) are considered medical examinations and need to be treated as Protected Health Information under HIPAA requirements. Additionally, companies may require their workers to be vaccinated once available, but if an employee declines, the company should engage with the employee to determine if a reasonable accommodation can be made due to disability or sincerely-held religious beliefs. This can be a complicated process for employers and should be very well documented; by not mandating the vaccine this compliance issue is no longer at play. Employers should also consider that mandating the vaccine may be off putting to some employees with an impact to morale. It may be best to educate employees thoroughly about the medical benefits of the vaccine and allow them to decide if the choice is right for their individual circumstances.

For assistance with any coronavirus-related questions, please contact the HRinDemand team.

Melissa Marsh, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is a human resources consultant and founder of HRinDemand, a human resources company in Reno, NV, offering expert guidance and easy-to-use tools to help small businesses with employment regulations, compliance, employee relations, and company growth.

Sources:

Society for Human Resource Management. (2020, December 27).  Coronavirus Relief Package Includes Key Workplace Provisions. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/Pages/coronavirus-relief-package-workplace-provisions.aspx

Society for Human Resource Management. (2020, December 18). What Employers Can Do If Workers Refuse a COVID-19 Vaccination. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/if-workers-refuse-a-covid-19-vaccination.aspx

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2020, December 16). What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

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