"What a Difference a Year Makes"

Customized Logistics & Delivery Association Magazine

Headshot of Crystal McElrathCrystal McElrath authored an article for the summer 2021 Customized Logistics & Delivery Association (CLDA) Magazine discussing the evolution of COVID-19 guidance and federal regulations for employers over the past year and how employers can prepare themselves for further changes that may come in the future.

Guidance from OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding doctors' notes, taking employees' temperatures, masks, etc., changed quickly throughout the beginning of the pandemic. Similarly, once vaccines were available, OSHA recommended employers encourage or incentivize vaccination, but many employers were fearful of soliciting information about their employees' vaccination status. 

"It now seems clear that an employer may poll its employees to determine vaccination status and may require proof of vaccination by asking employees for a copy of their vaccination records," said McElrath. "These are not considered medical exams under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and most employers are not HIPAA-obligated in the first place. Of course, employers must still be mindful of their accommodation obligations not only under the ADA, but also under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on religion."

Businesses and employers of all types have been subject to the ever-changing regulatory landscape brought about by the pandemic . They have also learned to the extent which health and safety are business assets and liabilities, as well as risk management issues, labor issues and public relations issues.

Regardless of how federal regulations may change in another year, McElrath advises that employers heed the lessons learned from 2020 and 2021 from a risk management perspective.

"The response to all of these issues always begins long before the issue begins," said McElrath. "Insurance policies, a well-drafted handbook, a procedure/team for investigations and a good arsenal of accessible legal counsel make all the difference in an organization's emergency preparedness."

For the full article, please click here.

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