Concerned About COVID-19 at Your Workplace? OSHA Releases Long-Overdue COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, with Limits on Its Scope

On Thursday, June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) released  its much-anticipated COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), nearly five months after President Biden issued an executive order directing the agency to pursue an emergency standard to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace. Notably, while the executive order…

Is Your Employer Offering You an Incentive to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19? EEOC Releases Guidance on Incentives for Employee Vaccination

On May 28, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released updated technical assistance explaining how federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws—namely, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)—apply when an employer offers incentives for employees to provide documentation or other confirmation of their COVID-19 vaccination status. First,…

Feeling the Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccine? NYS Paid Sick Leave May Be Used

On May 27, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that state Department of Labor forthcoming guidance will direct employers to permit the use of NYS Paid Sick Leave for any necessary recovery period from the COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, New Yorkers experiencing side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine can use NYS paid sick…

New York HERO Act Provides Health and Safety Protections for Workers

On May 5, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed into law the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (“HERO Act”), which requires employers to help protect workers from airborne infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. The law is the result of sustained efforts by labor unions and public interest groups for enactment of enforceable health and safety protections…

Coming Soon: No Surprise Medical Billing

The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (“CAA”), signed into law last December, contains the No Surprises Act. This is very good news for health plan participants. The law protects plan participants from surprise medical billing and provides transparency about medical providers’ fees. However, these protections don’t kick in until 2022. Frequently, a person goes…

DOL Releases Guidance on the American Rescue Plan Act’s COBRA Premium Assistance

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), enacted in March 2021, authorizes temporary COBRA premium assistance to certain individuals and their dependents who have lost employer-sponsored health coverage due to involuntary termination of employment (other than for gross misconduct) or reduction of hours. The assistance reduces the amount of COBRA premiums to zero for the period…

New York Establishes Historic Excluded Workers Fund

The 2022 New York State Budget created a $2.1 billion program for workers who have lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic, but are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance, federal stimulus payments, or other federal COVID-related benefits due to their immigration status. Immigrant communities have been disproportionately burdened by the pandemic in terms of their health and…

IRS Announces that COVID-19 Face Masks and Hand Sanitizer Are Tax Deductible

On March 26, 2020, the IRS announced that the amounts you paid to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against the spread of COVID-19, such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes are eligible to be deducted as medical expenses on your 2020 tax return. The IRS advises that taxpayers may be eligible…

New York State Establishes Emergency Grant Program for Essential Workers

If you are an essential worker, first responder, or healthcare worker, you may be eligible for New York State’s Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund. Announced on March 6, 2021, the Fund was designed to help eligible essential workers who responded to the public health emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic and are in financial need. Up…

If You Received Unemployment Benefits in 2020, You May Be Entitled to a Tax Break

In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law an economic stimulus bill called the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). The law includes a special federal tax break for workers who received unemployment benefits in 2020: the first $10,200 ($20,400 if married and filing jointly) of unemployment compensation is not taxable. This benefit applies to…