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New York Revises COVID-19 Reopening Guidance & HERO Act Changes on the Way

June 10, 2021 | Blog | By Corbin Carter, Michael Arnold

It’s been a busy month (year?) for New York employers – one that has brought several important updates with respect to employers’ reopening plans. On the heels of the State’s May 19th adoption of the recent CDC guidance outlining increased privileges for fully vaccinated individuals, New York State updated its NY Forward COVID-19 reopening guidance on June 8, 2021, including its guidance geared toward office environments. As a reminder, New York businesses opting to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic must do so consistent with the State’s industry-specific reopening guidelines, found here; affirm their compliance with same prior to reestablishing in-person operations; and implement a written safety plan governing its workplace safety protocols.
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This alert covers updated guidance issued by the US Department of State on June 1, 2021 that expands the eligibility for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) to the travel bans from the Schengen Area of the EU, the U.K., Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India.
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Employment, Labor, and Benefits Viewpoints Thumbnail
Cal/OSHA has relaxed some of its COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for fully vaccinated individuals to better align with the California’s June 15, 2021 goal to end most mask and physical distancing requirements. But the proposed revisions stop short of fully adopting the May 13, 2021 CDC guidance for fully vaccinated individuals and do not (yet) provide guidance on several important issues, including the enforcement of documentation for vaccine verification and how employers can demonstrate that physical distancing is not feasible.
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Employment, Labor, and Benefits Viewpoints Thumbnail

Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave

June 7, 2021 | Blog | By Andrew Matzkin, Natalie C. Groot

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently signed legislation requiring employers to provide COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave (“COVID-19 EPSL”) to employees who are unable to work for COVID-19-related reasons. In this post, we summarize and answer some frequently asked questions.
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Immigration Viewpoint Thumbnail
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced they would again extend flexibility relating to in-person Form I-9 compliance.
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Employment, Labor, and Benefits Viewpoints Thumbnail
The New York State Legislature recently passed the Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act”), which has been delivered to Governor Cuomo for his signature. The legislation seeks to address continued COVID-19 safety concerns in the workplace and is designed to codify, supplement, and replace numerous executive actions that have been issued throughout the pandemic. The HERO Act would also pass into law significant new health and safety obligations for New York employers, including the formation of joint labor-management workplace safety committees to help ensure worker safety. Employers should prepare now to come into compliance with the new law, which we summarize below.
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Employment, Labor, and Benefits Viewpoints Thumbnail

Have You Been Vaccinated? Your Employer (and Everyone Else) Wants to Know

May 17, 2021 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin, Michael Arnold

The CDC’s recent guidance suggesting that most fully vaccinated individuals may discontinue certain safety measures, such as masking and social distancing, has created significant confusion for employers navigating conflicting and ever-changing state and local COVID-19 workplace laws, regulations and guidance. While the most recent CDC guidance endorses resuming activities (indoors and out) without masks for most fully vaccinated individuals, the guidance around vaccination verification and disparate treatment between the vaccinated and unvaccinated is still lacking. Employers are now facing these sensitive but critically important return to office issues without the benefit of critical guidance from Federal, state and local regulators. We provide some guidance below regarding vaccine verification and some considerations for employers thinking about instituting vaccine policies.
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Employment, Labor, and Benefits Viewpoints Thumbnail

CDC Vaccination Guidance Does Not Supersede State and Local Workplace Regulations

May 14, 2021 | Blog | By Danielle Bereznay, Jennifer Rubin, Michael Arnold, Corbin Carter

On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”) published guidance indicating that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask or physically distance in certain indoor and outdoor environments, except where otherwise required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. The guidance does not apply to healthcare settings and certain other environments.
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Podcast Viewpoint Thumbnail
In this episode of our Exclusive Rights podcast series, Mintz IP attorneys Daniel Weinger and Todd B. Buck, PhD, discuss the recent decision by the Biden Administration to signal US approval of a proposal to waive intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 vaccines currently under review at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
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Health Care Viewpoints Thumbnail
On April 22, 2021, Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and David McKinley (R-WV) introduced H.R. 2759, or the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act. Its introduction marks a fourth bipartisan effort in the House to enact the legislation, which would allow Medicare to directly reimburse pharmacists for delivering certain health care services to Medicare beneficiaries living in areas with limited access to primary medical care. Hindsight suggests that when introduced in the past, the Act may not have been ripe for consideration. But now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and on the heels of successful initiatives like the West Virginia vaccine rollout, Congress may not wish to table discussion of the legislation any longer.
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Immigration Viewpoint Thumbnail

Travel Alert – Update on U.S. Travel Bans

May 12, 2021 | Alert | By Maryanne Kline

This alert advises caution regarding international travel and covers the CDC’s January 26, 2021 order on COVID-19 testing, current travel bans and their exemptions and waivers, visa processing, and additional notes on entry into the US.
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Biden Administration Bans Most Travel from India

May 12, 2021 | Alert | By John Quill

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Bankruptcy & Restructuring Viewpoints Thumbnail
A reminder for how property owners and real estate developers can protect themselves – and their projects – from downstream distress. There are six key issues that owners should consider when contracting for their next project.
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Health Care Viewpoints Thumbnail
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice announcing that the application filing window for Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program will run for seven days starting April 29, 2021. The application portal will open at noon ET on Thursday, April 29, and close one week later at noon ET on Thursday, May 6. Round 2 of the FCC's COVID-19 Telehealth Program will make an additional almost $250 million available to fund telehealth and connected care services provided by eligible providers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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Health Care Viewpoints Thumbnail
As we previously reported, President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This historic legislative package provides much needed relief to millions of Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and essential resources to address the ongoing public health emergency. Among other things, the ARPA allocates funds to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for COVID-19 testing, contract tracing, vaccines, supplies, and other related treatment. To alleviate the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic on America’s public health care system, it includes funding for rural health providers, community health centers, and skilled nursing facilities, and makes important modifications to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This post summarizes the Medicaid provisions contained in the ARPA and their proposed changes to the Medicaid program.
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Podcast Viewpoint Thumbnail

Health Law Diagnosed — Telehealth Transformation: Where We Are and Where We’re Headed

April 9, 2021 | Podcast | By Nili Yolin, Ellen Janos, Cassandra Paolillo

The ability to provide health care from a remote location has been around for many years, but with the arrival of COVID-19, hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers have had to rapidly rethink their traditional models of health care delivery.
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Technology, Communications & Media Thumbnail

FCC to Award Additional $249+ Million in Funding for COVID-19 Telehealth Program

April 6, 2021 | Blog | By Angela Kung, Rachel Irving Pitts

On March 29, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) adopted an Order establishing rules and procedures for Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (the “Program”) to continue supporting telehealth services, which have proved to be so vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a News Release accompanying the Order, FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel highlighted that “[t]his past year has proven, without a doubt, that telehealth technology is critical to helping address inequities in access to health care services” and that Round 2 of this program will help address these challenges “head on.”
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Employment, Labor, and Benefits Viewpoints Thumbnail

ALERT: New COVID-19 Vaccine Paid Leave for New York Employees

March 16, 2021 | Blog | By Corbin Carter, Brie Kluytenaar

As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York employers must now grapple with another new paid leave requirement from New York State.  A new law signed by Governor Cuomo on March 12, 2021 amends New York’s Labor Law and entitles employees up to four hours of paid leave per COVID-19 vaccine injection.  The law is effective immediately, and the law’s leave entitlement is set to expire on December 31, 2022. We note key provisions of the new law below.
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Conference Recordings: Mintz's Annual Employment Law Summit

March 12, 2021 | Webinar | By Michael Arnold, David Barmak, Jessica Catlow, Micha Mitch Danzig, Geri Haight, Andrew Matzkin, David Lagasse, O'Kelly E. McWilliams, III, Jennifer Rubin, Tyrone Thomas, Alexander Hecht, Danielle Bereznay, Jennifer Budoff, Delaney Busch, Corbin Carter, Emma Follansbee, Natalie C. Groot, Paul Huston, Brie Kluytenaar, Brendan Lowd, Audrey Nguyen, Nicole Rivers, Richard Block

Mintz’s Annual Employment Law Summit brought together thought leaders to discuss the most pressing issues employers are facing in today’s unprecedented work environment. Attendees heard presentations on the continued impact of COVID-19; social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; recent and anticipated changes to employment laws; and best practices for managing sensitive employee situations.
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Employment, Labor, and Benefits Viewpoints Thumbnail
On February 26, 2021, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued Notice 2021-01 (the “Notice”). The Notice was issued jointly with the Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services (the “Departments”). Entitled “Guidance on Continuation of Relief for Employee Benefit Plans and Plan Participants and Beneficiaries Due to the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Outbreak,” the Notice provides much needed guidance to group health plan sponsors on (among other things) when COBRA notice and election periods, which had been previously extended [in May 2020], will come to an end. This guidance was necessary because earlier regulatory relief extending COBRA notice and election periods was about to expire as a result of a statutory deadline. This post explains the impact of the Notice on sponsors of group health plans.
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