On March 11, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed The American Rescue Plan Act, which provides $1.9 trillion in funds for individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For employers, here are the key provisions to be aware of:

FFCRA tax credit extension

Since January 2021, employers subject to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) have not been required to provide FFCRA leave to employees; however, employers who opt to voluntarily provide FFCRA leave to employees can obtain tax credits to offset certain costs associated with providing the leave. The American Rescue Plan Act does not reinstate the mandate to provide leave or require employers to provide any additional leave, but extends the tax credits for qualifying family leave and sick leave wages that an employer voluntarily pays between April 1, 2021 and Sept. 30, 2021. The measure provides a new yearly allotment of up to 80 hours per employee of qualifying paid sick leave available for 2021 tax credits. Again, this does not obligate an employer to provide additional leave, but allows employers to offer a new bucket of leave to employees if they so choose.
Continue Reading The American Rescue Plan Act: What employers need to know

The attorneys behind the Employer Law Report Blog present the final part of our three-part series on the COVID-19 vaccine and employer considerations.

On Jan. 7, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) proposed new rules that would apply to employer wellness programs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Some commentators have suggested that these rules may affect employers who plan to offer an incentive to encourage employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Less than two weeks later, the Biden Administration issued a regulatory freeze and instructed agencies to withdraw unpublished rules, including the proposed wellness program rules. For now, it is important to be aware of the rules because they may indicate the direction the EEOC intends to take when the freeze is lifted.


Continue Reading EEOC proposes new wellness program rules under the ADA and GINA which may limit employers’ efforts to incentivize COVID-19 vaccination

The attorneys behind the Employer Law Report Blog present the second blog in our three-part series on the COVID-19 vaccine and employer considerations.

The COVID-19 vaccination process has begun in the U.S., but at this point, the COVID-19 vaccine is not widely available to most employees. As explored in Part 1 of our series on the COVID-19 vaccine, many employers are deciding whether to require or incentivize their employees to obtain the vaccination. In addition to the issues raised in those posts, employers need to consider the implications of the workers’ compensation system in developing vaccination policies and procedures.


Continue Reading Vaccine policies and workers’ compensation

The attorneys behind the Employer Law Report Blog present the first in a three-part series on the COVID-19 vaccine and employer considerations.

As vaccinations become increasingly available to stop the spread of COVID-19, some  employers are posing the question: Can I require my employees to receive the vaccine in order to make my workplace more safe? The question is somewhat academic right now, since the vaccine is not widely available in most states, but it appears that will change in the weeks and months to come.


Continue Reading COVID-19 vaccine for employees: Can you require it? Should you require it? Can you offer incentives to encourage it?

A new year presents an opportunity to reevaluate the prior year and make any necessary changes for the upcoming year. Although typically this period of reflection relates to healthy eating and exercise regimens, it is also a relevant exercise for evaluating the status of the workers’ compensation system.

Continue Reading Looking back at 2020: Did the COVID-19 pandemic cause the predicted onslaught of workers’ compensation claims?

Borrowers of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans – together with their affiliates – who have loans in excess of $2 million and seek loan forgiveness will potentially need to complete necessity questionnaires according to the Small Business Administration. There are separate forms for for-profit and non-profit businesses and will likely affect 52,000 borrowers.

My colleagues

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a cataclysmic impact on small and large businesses across the state of Ohio. Some businesses have been shuttered indefinitely, while other businesses have had to adjust on the fly and upend their operations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that have been able to reopen have also faced the question of whether they are subject to tort liability if an employee, customer, vendor or other person contracts COVID-19 while on the premises. House Bill 606 now answers that question – at least in the short term.

Continue Reading Ohio passes law granting temporary civil immunity to businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits

Last Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued new temporary rules on the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to address certain previously-implemented rules the Southern District of New York recently struck down. As background, check out our post from Aug. 6, 2020, describing the decision from the Southern District of New York. And by address, the DOL in fact decided to, as they put it, “reaffirm and provide additional explanation” for its position on furloughs and intermittent leave, which, on the whole, benefit FFCRA-covered employers.

Continue Reading These new rules look a lot like the old ones: DOL stands firm in response to SDNY decision in its revised FFCRA rules

On Aug. 3, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated several significant portions of a Department of Labor (DOL) Final Rule which employers had been relying upon to administer employee leave requests pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Although it is too early to know if the decision will be affirmed on appeal, or adopted by courts in other jurisdictions, employers should anticipate a renewed interest for FFCRA leave among employees previously  denied it or who believed it was unavailable. And those who continue to rely on the DOL’s rule to deny such requests will be doing so at their own risk.
Continue Reading Federal court muddies waters for employers navigating FFCRA leave issues

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses across the country, employers are faced with the difficult question of how to keep their workplaces safe. Some employers are attempting to restrict off-duty employee conduct to limit high-risk behavior.

The National Football League (NFL) is one employer taking steps to regulate off-duty conduct to reduce risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL has apparently reached an agreement with the players’ association that restricts the players’ off-duty conduct in some surprising ways. Players are prohibited from attending indoor night clubs, concerts, and even indoor religious services that allow attendance above 25 percent capacity. If a player violates these rules and then tests positive for COVID-19, he will reportedly not be paid for any games he misses and future guarantees in his contract will be voided. The NFL and the players’ association have presumably entered into this agreement for two chief reasons: to minimize COVID-19 outbreaks among teams and, in turn, to increase the likelihood that NFL football can be played this season. Commentators have thrown some challenge flags at the agreement, however, due to its potential for punishing employees for engaging in lawful off-duty activities.
Continue Reading NFL is tackling off-duty conduct to reduce COVID-19 spread. Can your business, too?