Stokes Wagner Law Firm
Stokes Wagner

The American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”), signed into law on March 11, 2021, obligates employers to pay COBRA insurance premiums for individuals who suffer job loss. Under the plan, employers receive the subsidy, which they pass along to COBRA enrolled former employees, through a payroll tax credit on quarterly Medicare taxes. The subsidy period is April 1 to September 30, 2021, and both fully insured and self-insured group plans are eligible for the credit.

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On March 19, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 95, providing supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-related leaves and absences. The supplemental paid sick leave requirements apply in addition to previous paid time off requirements, such as statutory paid sick leave or vacation time provided by the employer. Although the statute requirements do not begin until March 29, 2021, the requirements will apply retroactively to January 1, 2021, and are effective through September 30, 2021. Employers should move quickly to examine and revise their policies, practices, and payroll records for compliance.

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On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed legislation granting both public and private employees time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Under this new law, employees are entitled to receive paid, job-protected leave “for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection” (i.e., 8 hours of total leave if receiving two shots) to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

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We are proud to announce the release of our latest Quarterly Newsletter, which may be found here.

This quarterly covers topics including:

  • Anticipated changes in labor law under the Biden Administration,
  • The latest Assembly and Senate Bills for California,
  • Minimum Wage updates, and
  • Classification of independent contractors.

Our newsletter summarizes key developments in the employment law arena on a quarterly basis, with a focus on how these developments may impact the hospitality industry and your operations. As you may have noticed, the legal landscape changes on a far more frequent basis than four times a year. So, when a particularly significant development occurs, we immediately publish a “Legal Alert” and make it available to each of our clients and subscribers. If you would like to stay abreast of legal developments in real-time, and receive our legal updates in a more timely fashion, we invite you to follow us on Instagram @stokeswagner.

THIS DOCUMENT PROVIDES A GENERAL SUMMARY AND IS FOR INFORMATIONAL/EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE COMPREHENSIVE, NOR DOES IT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT WITH COUNSEL BEFORE TAKING OR REFRAINING FROM TAKING ANY ACTION.

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Return-To-Work Protocols

March 15, 2021  •  Christina Tantoy

Category: Legal Updates

For several months, employees who were exposed to or in “close contact” with a COVID-19 case were required to quarantine/isolate from the workplace for 14 days. As the vaccine’s availability increases and more workers become fully vaccinated, guidance relating to these quarantine/isolation protocols will loosen.

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The U.S. Department of Labor has delayed for at least 60 days implementation of changes to the tip credit rules that would have taken effect on March 1. This delay cites the January 20, 2021, memorandum “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review,” which directed the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies to consider delaying the effective dates of all regulations that had been published in the Federal Register but had not yet taken effect.

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On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom approved Assembly Bill 685, which imposes enhanced notice and recordkeeping obligations on employers and expands Cal/OSHA’s enforcement powers. These provisions are set to expire January 1, 2023.

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On September 30, 2020, California enacted SB 973, which requires large private employers to report specific pay data to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) by March 31, 2021, and annually thereafter. SB 973 is designed to identify hidden yet persistent racial and gender pay gaps that can result from unconscious biases or historical inequities. The rule allows for effective enforcement of equal pay or anti-discrimination laws. As of February 16, 2021, employers can now submit their 2020 pay data at the Pay Reporting Portal.

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As the coronavirus vaccine becomes more widely available over the next few months, many employers grapple with the question of whether to mandate the vaccine. Following EEOC guidelines, some employers plan to require it as a condition to returning to the workplace (i.e., nursing homes). In contrast, others prefer to “encourage” vaccinations, leaving the ultimate decision to employees. In an effort to minimize health risks and provide peace of mind to employees returning to the workplace, some employers are asking whether they can offer incentives to encourage employees who get the vaccine.

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As part of his State of the State address on January 11, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced changes in the calculation of unemployment benefits for part-time workers in New York.

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