As vaccination rates rise and more workers return to the workplace, employers, especially multi-state employers, should stay current with changing Covid-related mandates in states where employees are working. Here are a few areas to watch.
Emergency Declaration Status
By declaring a state of emergency, governors were able to quickly respond to the needs of their state as well as gain access to federal resources. While most states have lifted their emergency declarations and are fully open, some states and local governments still have restrictions in place for certain situations. Employers should be familiar with any restrictions that may still apply in the states where workers are located.
Guidance for Workplace Safety
The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has enforcement authority over workplace safety issues. Recently, OSHA updated its general Covid-19 guidance for employers and workers not subject to the new Emergency Temporary Standard for the healthcare industry.
As part of this guidance, employers no longer need to take steps to protect fully vaccinated employees from Covid-19 exposure. However, employers still need to protect unvaccinated and at-risk workers as required by applicable state, and local laws.
Regulations on occupancy limits and capacity requirements, which also impact social distancing efforts, remain in place in some states. For example, in New Mexico, gatherings are capped at 150 people. Restaurants can offer indoor dining at 75 percent capacity upon completing a state safety certified training program. Most other businesses can operate at 75 percent capacity.
When considering vaccine requirements, employers should ensure compliance with federal guidelines, as well as applicable state and local requirements.
Applicable employers are allowed to ask their employees if they have received a Covid-19 vaccine. But asking employees whether they have received a vaccine is different than requiring proof of vaccination.
In some states, there are laws that prohibit employers from requiring Covid-19 vaccine documentation as a condition of employment.
Paid Leave Requirements
After the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired along with its mandate for employers to provide paid sick leave, state laws stepped in to help. Employers should review expanded Covid-19 state laws and understand how these laws interact with existing state and local level laws. In many cases, existing legislation may have different employer requirements, making compliance a challenge for businesses with workers in multiple locations. The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) provides an interactive map with details state and local paid-sick-leave laws that extend beyond the pandemic.
During the pandemic, many employees transitioned to working remotely. If you have employees working in different states, your business may be subject to different or additional laws as well as new state business and payroll taxes. A few employment laws that may vary by state include: paid leave, minimum wage and overtime.
PEO Services Can Help
As employers face reopening their worksites, navigating different and sometimes conflicting state labor laws can be a compliance challenge. Outsourcing HR to a certified PEO, like Propel HR, can help your business reduce risks and prevent costly compliance violations. This includes complying with the labor laws and regulations governed by the state where all of your employees are working, not just where your business is located.
Please Note: This information is for general reference purposes only. Because laws, regulations, and filing deadlines are constantly changing, check with the appropriate organizations or government agencies for the latest information and consult your employment attorney and/or benefits advisor regarding your responsibilities to ensure you’re compliant with all of the laws that apply to your business. In addition, your company may be exempt from certain requirements and/or be subject to different requirements under the laws of your state.
Propel HR President Lee Yarborough was recently elected Chair of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) Board of Directors. She spoke with PEO Insider magazine to share where she thinks the industry is headed and how NAPEO can continue to grow. Download a pdf version of the full interview: A Passion To Serve
About Propel HR. Propel HR is an IRS-certified PEO that has been a leading provider of human resources and payroll solutions for 25 years. Propel partners with small to midsized businesses to manage payroll, employee benefits, compliance and risks, and other HR functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces costs.