As COVID-19 is back on the rise throughout the United States and various vaccine trials are occurring, employers are beginning to consider COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all their employees. While no vaccine has been approved yet, predictions point to a possible release by the end of the year. The vaccine is not expected to be readily available until mid-2021 for the general public, which makes it difficult for most employers to mandate vaccination at least until 2021. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has yet to release guidance on COVID-19 vaccine so it is best to consider guidelines discussing flu vaccines for now. Although there are necessary accommodations due to federal legislation, vaccine programs are permissible.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) recently announced alterations to its previous regulations which expanded family and medical leave provisions and paid sick leave of April’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). These revisions serve to clarify the responsibilities of employers and the rights of workers as they relate to the paid leave of FFCRA. These revisions come after a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York which invalidated portions of the initial regulations. The WHD’s revisions are an example of the lack of clarity and adequate response from regulations designed to protect workers during the current pandemic.
As Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease, sports leagues are tasked with implementing safety measures in an urgent and effective manner. Despite the rush for normalcy amid trying times, mitigating further spread and risks associated with the ongoing pandemic are at the forefront of these efforts. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is among the first organizations attempting to resume operations while facing significant health and safety considerations.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – enacted in 1996 by the U.S. Congress and signed by then-President Bill Clinton – has long served to maintain the standards of electronic health records and patient privacy, among many other provisions. Violating HIPAA can result in both criminal prosecution as well as steep civil penalties. As the healthcare industry transitioned from the use of paper records to storing patient data on electronic health records over the last two decades, health organizations have learned to adapt to HIPAA compliance, with many increasing their compliance programs by hiring full-time compliance officers, designating an individual as the compliance manager, and/or appointing a compliance committee within the organization.
On March 27, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748), otherwise known as the “CARES” Act. Originally introduced in January as the Middle-Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act, the bill was then revised to address the needs of the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic. The bi-partisan CARES Act, with strong support from the White House, ultimately passed the House of Representatives with a 419-6 roll call and the Senate with 96-0 votes.
The Illinois Department of Public Health, local health departments, public health partners throughout Illinois, and federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), are responding to an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus called COVID-19 that was first identified in December 2019 during an outbreak in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 has spread throughout the world, including the United States, since it was detected and was declared a public health emergency for the U.S. on January 31, 2020 to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to the threat. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced March 11, 2020 that the spread of coronavirus qualified as a global pandemic.