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Employment Law Updates: August 2021

One Federal and two State Law Updates have been issued this month.  Our HR Advisors are versed and ready to answer your toughest HR questions to help your company through working remotely, coming back to work and all year long.

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Federal Labor Law Update for August 2021


COVID-19 Booster Shots

On August 18, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement on its plan for COVID-19 booster shots, “to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.” Subject to FDA approval, the booster—a third dose of either the Pfizer or Modern vaccine—will be offered starting September 20 and will first be available for those who were fully vaccinated eight months prior (January 2021). That way, those who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. The HHS also anticipates booster shots are likely for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, but its rollout didn’t start in the U.S. until March 2021, and the department is waiting for more data on J&J before announcing that booster plan.


OSHA Updates Coronavirus Guidance

On August 13, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued updated guidance to help employers protect workers from the coronavirus. The updated guidance reflects developments in science and data, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated COVID-19 guidance issued July 27, 2021.

The updated guidance expands information on appropriate measures for protecting workers in higher-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers, particularly for industries such as manufacturing; meat, seafood and poultry processing; high volume retail and grocery; and agricultural processing, where there is often prolonged close contact with other workers and/or non-workers.

OSHA’s latest guidance:

  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission wear masks in order to protect unvaccinated workers;
  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers who have close contacts with people with coronavirus wear masks for up to 14 days unless they have a negative coronavirus test at least three to five days after such contact;
  • Clarifies recommendations to protect unvaccinated workers and other at-risk workers in manufacturing, meat and poultry processing, seafood processing and agricultural processing; and  
  • Links to the latest guidance on K-12 schools and CDC statements on public transit.

According to OSHA, vaccination is the optimal step to protect workers and encourages employers to engage with workers and their representatives to implement multi-layered approaches to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers from the coronavirus.

OSHA also reviews the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard every 30-days and its safeguards remain more important than ever. After reviewing the latest guidance, science and data, and consulting with the CDC and partners, OSHA determined the requirements of the healthcare ETS remain necessary to address the danger of the coronavirus in healthcare. OSHA will continue to monitor and assess the need for changes in the healthcare ETS each month.

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Individual state labor laws

State Specific Labor Law Updates:

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