Pennsylvania News & Analysis

  • How Virginia's new COVID-19 rules affect your workplace

    The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change, with the so-called fourth wave straining healthcare systems in many communities. Recognizing the changing nature of the pandemic, Virginia's Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) has imposed new COVID-19 workplace requirements that affect all employers within the Commonwealth. Building on its existing standard for infectious disease prevention, first put into action in January 2021, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board issued amendments to the standard, which Governor Ralph Northam approved and which became effective in September 2021.

  • Hackers bribing employees, vendors to deploy ransomware

    With ransomware attacks up by more than 150 percent in the first half of 2021, there seems to be no limit to the methods criminal hackers will use to deploy ransomware or otherwise cause cyber mayhem. Their latest trick: hiring your employees and vendors to help them.

  • Virginia enacts enhanced protections for disabled employees

    Since the 1980s, Virginia has prohibited employment discrimination against disabled workers under the Virginians with Disabilities Act (VDA). Accordingly, it's understandable many Virginia employers may have overlooked critical amendments to the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) enacted this year by the Virginia Assembly and signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam. The amendments, which took effect on July 1, give additional legal protections to persons with disabilities and provide additional remedies to those who have been discriminated against.

  • Employers gird for sweeping new COVID-19 rules on vaccines, testing

    By mandating vaccinations for many employees, President Joe' Biden's six-pronged COVID-19 action plan will have a significant effect on employers across the country. Many key details (including what exemptions may apply to the vaccine mandates) remain unknown until additional federal guidance is provided.

  • OSHA updates COVID-19 workplace safety guidance

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently updated its guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace because of the high incidence of the delta variant infections occurring throughout the country. The agency's updated guidance is advisory in nature and informational in content and is "intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm." OSHA's updated guidance is primarily aimed at non-healthcare employees, whose workplaces are subject to its mandatory COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. The updated guidance also incorporates additional safety measures for higher risk workplaces.

  • Staffing up during the pandemic: a few tips

    Many employers were optimistic earlier in the year when the COVID-19 vaccination program ramped up in a big way and case counts seemed to be on the decline. Restrictions were eased, and light seemed to appear at the end of the tunnel.

  • Some ideas for performance evaluations as the pandemic continues

    The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt many facets of employment, including how managers and employees communicate about performance. Like last year, employers are struggling to decide how to assess employee performance when so much of the workforce is nowhere near back to normal. The "annual review" process was under attack in many circles before the pandemic struck, but its shortcomings are now even more evident. What should employers do? Here are a few ideas.

  • U.S. firm's health insurance surcharge for unvaccinated draws interest in Canada, too

    Employers have been trying to encourage employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Some paid bonuses. Others provided gift cards. What happens when rewards aren't enough? A U.S. employer recently announced a different approach: All unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company's healthcare plan will have to pay a $200 monthly surcharge starting on November 1, 2021. In support for the surcharge, the employer noted all of its employees who were hospitalized with the virus weren't fully vaccinated. Their average hospital stay costs the company $50,000 per person.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Survey highlights employer worries about exodus of talent. A survey from outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc. shows 68% of companies are worried about an exodus of workers. Why? The researchers say 75% of companies reported workers wanting more flexibility and 59% cited worker burnout. Women are pushing back more than any other group, according to Challengers report. Over 81% of companies reported facing pushback to the return to the office, primarily coming from mothers and women. The survey reported 29% of employers cited childcare as an issue fueling workers desire to leave their jobs. Another 9% cited mental health concerns. Survey participants also were asked if they were offering new incentives to keep talent. Sixty-three percent said they were. Incentives offered include flexible work hours, remote work options, hybrid work arrangements, higher pay, and cash bonuses.

  • Federal Watch

    NLRB General Counsel announces priorities. Jennifer A. Abruzzo, General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in August announced her offices priorities, including an examination of cases and subject matter areas in which, in the last several years, the Board overruled precedent. In the Mandatory Submissions to Advice Memorandum, Abruzzo listed 11 NLRB case areas that she identifies as doctrinal shifts away from previous Board precedent. Those cases involve employer handbook rules, confidentiality provisions in separation agreements, defining the scope of protected concerted activity, union access, and jurisdiction over religious institutions. Other subject areas she would like to examine include cases involving Weingarten rights, employee status, mutual aid or protection, and employer duty to recognize and bargain.