Symphony Employer Solutions Keeps YOUR Business Compliant ~ Mask Policy for the Workplace – What You Need to Consider

Mask Policy for the Workplace – What You Need to Consider

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently updated their guidance to include that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in many indoor and outdoor settings. Yet an employer may have cause to pause before eliminating masks in the workplace. Here are questions to consider:

1. What does “fully vaccinated” mean?

CDC guidelines cover people who have received a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines. “Fully vaccinated,” means that two weeks have passed since they received a single-shot vaccine (J&J) or the timely second dose of a two-shot vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).

2. Does CDC guidance overrule State and local restrictions?

The CDC communication is guidance and not regulation. Employers should stay informed on the ever-changing regulations issued by State and local governments that impact the employer location(s) of operation. Massachusetts has recently relaxed mask restrictions for public space but does not specifically speak to work environments.

Employers that are not subject to more stringent local laws will have to choose between removing or easing mask policy mandates or keeping stricter rules in place. In the end, business management should stay focused on worker and customer safety in their specific work environment to manage the risk of potential liability.

3. Does the recent CDC guidance apply to every industry?

Currently, no. Although there are variances in State and local settings, there is a pattern of masks continuing to be required in public and private transportation, schools and educational locations, childcare programs, healthcare facilities, health provider offices, congregate-care facilities, home health encounters, and rehabilitative settings as examples.

4. How to handle proof of vaccination?

If removal of masks is to be based on being “fully vaccinated” the employer will need to choose how to verify vaccination without running afoul of overlapping regulation. Options include requiring proof, requiring a signed statement of vaccination status, acceptance of the verbal statement of vaccination status, trust of employee compliance. See Clarity for Employers Requiring or Encouraging Employee Vaccinations for more information.

5. Will a change in policy place unvaccinated employees at risk of being bullied or harassed?

Business leaders need to weigh this question based on their knowledge of their work environment. There are legitimate reasons that employees may be delaying or declining vaccination. Peers may not be sensitive to the factors weighing on such a decision. A change in policy should consider how to handle employee harassment should it arise.

6. Could a change in policy be viewed as discrimination against an employee subset?

Lack of vaccination could be an indicator of a protected category of employees. Business
leaders need to sensitive to the possibility and consider all accommodation requests
from employees who are unable to receive a vaccine due to disability, medical condition,
religious belief, age, or other protected reason.

The nation has entered what is hoped to be the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is common consensus on the desire to return to “normal”. There are sure to be bumps in the road. Each business needs to respond to recent CDC guidance with policies that feel prudent for the specific work environment at this time.

Connecticut Now Requires Disclosure of Wage Ranges

Connecticut Now Requires Disclosure of Wage Ranges

Connecticut addresses wage ranges with HB Number 6380 entitled "An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Ranges," which goes into effect Oct. 1. Under the new law, an employer is prohibited from: Failing or refusing to provide an applicant for employment the wage...

read more
ERC Eligibility and Your Business

ERC Eligibility and Your Business

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized a credit called the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) to support employers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since being created by the CARES Act the ERC retroactively improved by the Consolidated...

read more
Providing Vaccination Incentives to Employees

Providing Vaccination Incentives to Employees

With states reducing restrictions on isolation and gatherings, employers are exploring ways to provide incentives for employees to get their vaccinations. New guidance from the IRS makes clear thatemployers can qualify for credits that support incentives for employees...

read more
COVID Inspires Re-Evaluation of Where and How People Work

COVID Inspires Re-Evaluation of Where and How People Work

The past 15 months of COVID-19 turmoil with full and part-time “work from home” highlighted weaknesses in work infrastructure including business applications, communication, data sharing methods, data security, and project completion methods. Remote work overwhelmed...

read more
We Remember to Never Forget

We Remember to Never Forget

This Memorial Day We pay tribute to the courage of the many brave women and men who have fought and served in the United States Armed Forces. We honor their love for this country, and we remember their sacrifice. Never forget. So our employees can be with their...

read more
Generous Support For SMBs

Generous Support For SMBs

ERC Is the Largest, Most Generous Support for SMBs Since PPP For businesses that have seen a drop in receipts of over 20%, the ERC offers substantial, generous support for SMBS that are dealing with the fallout from COVID-19. Business owners should carefully...

read more
100% Cobra Subsidy Model Notices Available

100% Cobra Subsidy Model Notices Available

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released to its website guidance and model notices to help employers comply with the federal COBRA premium subsidy put in place by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). To review the benefits and requirements of the Cobra Subsidy,...

read more
Paid Time Off for Vaccinations (with EMPLOYER TAX CREDITS)

Paid Time Off for Vaccinations (with EMPLOYER TAX CREDITS)

White House Urges Employers to Provide Paid Time Off for Vaccinations Eligible Employers. An eligible employer is any business, including a tax-exempt organization, with fewer than 500 employees. An eligible employer also includes a governmental employer, other than...

read more
100% Subsidized COBRA Adds Complexity for Employers

100% Subsidized COBRA Adds Complexity for Employers

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), which became law on March 11, 2021, provides government-subsidized free COBRA coverage for a six-month period from April through September 2021 for employees (and their family members) who experience a loss of group...

read more