What a difference a year can make. Even as vaccines are being administered and lingering restrictions brought on by the pandemic are being lifted, your center must be prepared to face continuing COVID-related legal challenges. The workplace is now different, both in appearance and in the rules that govern it. We have identified three ongoing issues you will likely need to manage in the coming months.
• Employee leave laws. In response to the pandemic, several new laws were enacted that afforded your staff with job protection and paid leave benefits. In April 2020, for example, Congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which required certain employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19. Although that law expired on Dec. 31, 2020, you can receive tax credits until Sept. 30, 2021 for voluntarily providing this leave.
Many states have also passed laws requiring job protected leave and, in some cases, paid leave for employees affected by COVID-19. At least 13 states and Washington, D.C. have some form of paid sick leave laws, many of which include provisions specific to paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19. While some of these laws are specific to COVID-19, many are general sick leave laws that will withstand the pandemic. In addition, some states — including New York and California — have enacted laws that require you to provide paid leave for employees to obtain COVID-19 vaccines. You should also prepare for new laws and regulations that impose additional requirements on your center to prevent airborne infectious diseases in the workplace. For instance, New York recently passed the HERO Act in an effort to reduce such disease spread. Additionally, OSHA continues to update and enforce respiratory program requirements and COVID-19 workplace illness recording and recordkeeping obligations.