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Employer Guide to Covid HR Policies

1. Vaccination Requirements

Vaccination is at the core of any comprehensive workplace pandemic plan, and employers are strongly advised to promote it through various channels and offer incentives for employees who get immunized. Employers must remember, however, that federal employment discrimination laws (i.e. ADA and Title VII) prevent them from requiring vaccinations that discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex status or age of employees as protected classifications.

Employers should be considerate when considering accommodating employees unable to be vaccinated due to medical conditions, such as transplant or long-term corticosteroids use that has weakened their immune systems, by offering face coverings in the work area, changing shifts or offering telecommuting arrangements if those accommodations exist and do not pose undue hardship on business operations. An employer should also be flexible when accommodating religious objections against COVID-19 vaccine use.

Employers in workplaces where people come into close contact for extended periods – such as manufacturing; meat, seafood and poultry processing plants; high-volume retail and grocery settings – are advised to create distance between fully vaccinated workers and those they come into close proximity with in the community. Employers may wish to implement or require face mask use within those environments as per CDC guidance, while asking customers wear them as well.

2. Vaccination Requirements for Travel

Before embarking on an international journey, it’s essential to keep many things in mind, such as passports, travel insurance and vaccinations. The latter are especially essential since international travel increases your risk of contracting or spreading diseases that you aren’t immune from. Routine shots should suffice in most situations but additional vaccinations may be required depending on where your destination lies – we can assist in identifying which vaccinations would best fit into your itinerary.

On May 11 – the date the public health emergency ends – HHS and DHS will begin the process of ending vaccination requirements for noncitizen air travelers under COVID-19, along with Federal employees and contractors, head start educators, CMS-certified healthcare facilities, as well as certain noncitizens at land borders.

Be sure to visit your primary care doctor regularly in order to stay current on all routine vaccinations, and use the CDC’s destination feature for travel vaccination recommendations at each destination. It may also be worth making an appointment with a specialized travel medicine clinic for measles vaccination – this may be especially important if traveling abroad to areas with active outbreaks.

3. Medical Leave

Employers must ensure they have an extensive medical leave policy in place and that employees understand what is expected from them when taking medical leave, including how and when using sick days and vacation time as well as FMLA and Academic Family Leave coverage.

FMLA and Academic Family Leave cover the need to care for an immediate family member who suffers from an ongoing and serious medical condition that interferes with performing job duties, but does not include minor conditions such as colds/flu, outpatient surgery visits, dental/orthodontic appointments or minor ailments that can be treated at home.

If a medical leave of absence is granted, employees must present documentation from their healthcare provider showing they cannot work due to their condition. All documents related to such leave must remain strictly confidential as this information serves as medical records.

If employees require it, the University can offer intermittent and reduced schedules to eligible employees. However, for such arrangements to work effectively and minimize disruptions, the University must be able to accurately anticipate how many days of leave will be needed and plan accordingly. Furthermore, those requiring intermittent or reduced leave may need to submit periodic updates with their supervisor unless this is prohibited by law; their supervisor must then be able to confirm whether such updates are relevant and appropriate.

4. Sick Leave

Sick leave policies provide employees with a convenient way to request time off when they feel sick, helping promote employee health and wellness as well as protect employers against liability in an outbreak. Although not all companies need to offer paid sick leave policies, many have found them effective strategies for decreasing absenteeism and increasing morale among their workforce.

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, over 30 states and cities and counties passed legislation mandating paid sick leave for covered workers in many forms. Eight in ten U.S. workers now have access to paid sick leave through their employer; its availability can differ depending on industry, firm size, full/part time employment options available by an organization and whether full/part time employees receive sick pay (Upjohn-Callison 2016). Furthermore, individuals from marginalized groups tend to have limited access (Upjohn-Callison 2016).

Sick leave policies must comply with state and local regulations as well as federal regulations, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. A proper sick leave policy will outline an employee’s annual paid sick time eligibility, its intended use, how it should be requested, who it should notify of absence and when an absence should occur; some companies require employees calling in sick find an alternate shift coverage person while others have rules in place that require notification by phone, email, or text message to their supervisor or manager.

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