OSHA Introduces COVID-19 Emphasis Program
In response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently introduced a new National Emphasis Program targeted at companies that put the largest numbers of workers at risk for exposure to COVID-19. The program also targets employers that retaliate against workers who file complaints or exercise their rights as protected by federal law and regulations. Certain employers, including those that engage in heavy and civil engineering construction and specialty trade contracting, will be part of the program’s focus. In addition, OSHA is expected to come out with a COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS), also directed by President Biden. Though the target date for the ETS has past, the industry expects OSHA to issue a standard shortly. Review the National Emphasis Program
House Passes the Protecting the Right to Organize Act
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, radical labor legislation that would completely rewrite our nation’s labor laws and threaten all merit shop contractors by a vote of 225 – 206. Passed primarily along party lines, the bill now heads to the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats who continue to consider ways to possibly reform the filibuster. With the current legislative filibuster in place, the bill has little chance to receive consideration. However, should filibuster rules change, the possibility of the PRO Act becoming law becomes even more of a reality. IEC needs to continue to keep the heat on the Senate. Act now, and tell your senators to oppose the PRO Act!
Changes to FFCRA Leave In American Rescue Plan Act
Earlier this month, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, a massive spending bill that included some changes to the paid family and sick leave tax credits found in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The mandatory program expired December 31, 2021, but ARPA extends the paid leave program on a voluntary basis through September 30, 2021. Starting April 1, the tax credit will apply against employers' share of Medicare tax rather than the Social Security tax. For those who voluntarily continue offering FFCRA paid leave, each employee is allowed an additional 10 days of paid sick leave beginning April 1. There are also new qualifying reasons for paid sick leave: time off to get a COVID-19 vaccination, recovery from any illness related to receiving the vaccine, and employee's seeking or waiting for test results or a medical diagnosis for COVID-19.
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