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What should employers take away from the latest federal COVID-19 plan? – Part 1

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

What should employers take away from the latest federal COVID-19 plan? – Part 1

U.S. organizations have joined the momentum to reopen physical workspaces after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier in March, the Federal administration laid out a plan titled the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that, in part, sought to clarify the government's approach to supporting those efforts. In the following weeks, we will cover the main topics of this plan. Check out part 1. Paid leave

The plan contains only one sentence on a topic that has been at the forefront of the conversation on how HR can support employees during the pandemic.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended employers offer paid sick leave for employees to recover from the side effects of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, an addendum to its prior guidance encouraging employers to offer "flexible, non-punitive paid sick leave" to sick workers.

Employers are likely to fall into one of two broad categories on this issue. The first consists of employers that have continued to offer paid sick leave, not only to respond to COVID-19 but also to attract talent in a candidate-friendly market. These employers are not likely to be impacted by future spending on sick leave mandates because their benefits might go beyond what federal legislation would require.

Other employers, some of whom are struggling, may decide to do the bare minimum to meet requirements even if tax credits are reinstated.

An update from OSHA?

After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's emergency temporary standard requiring employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccination, legal observers immediately began to speculate what alternative routes OSHA might take to require the vaccine.

The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will update workplace guidance to better equip employers with the tools they need to ensure safe workplaces, including guidance on how employers can continue to support increased vaccination and boosting of their employees; support workers such as people who are immunocompromised who choose to wear high-quality masks; limit workplace-based infections, and enhance ventilation.

Other factors, such as whether a new standard would be more tailored to specific, high-risk workplaces and whether OSHA issues new regs through a standard notice-and-comment process, also may come into play.

Aside from vaccination, the federal administration said it would publish a Clean Air in Buildings Checklist that organizations can use to improve ventilation and air filtration, which the Environmental Protection Agency touched upon in a "Clean Air in Buildings Challenge" document published this month.

Ventilation could be key to ensuring business continuity during both future COVID-19 variant outbreaks as well as future pandemics. Such measures also may help mitigate other respiratory diseases in the workplace, such as influenza.


EPIA inc. is a private Insurance Agency with no ties with legal entities. The information contained in this article is based on information provided by the Official Website. Consumer questions on how to proceed with the new guidelines must consult official governmental sources or labor and employment attorneys.

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