South Dakota News & Analysis

  • Federal contractors, subcontractors must vaccinate workers by December 8

    The White House's Safer Federal Workforce Task Force recently released new vaccination guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors. Under the guidelines, employees of federal contractors (and subcontractors) must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or request and receive a medical or religious accommodation by December 8, 2021. In addition, beginning on November 14, the vaccination requirement must be added to any "new" federal contract and any existing federal contract that is "renewed." Beginning on October 15, however, federal agencies will be "encouraged" to include the vaccine requirement in their federal contracts.

  • Denying employee's remote-work accommodation spurs EEOC lawsuit

    After an employee requested remote work as an accommodation for her multiple physical ailments, the employer allegedly discriminated against and fired her. The action recently provoked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file its first COVID-19-related disability accommodation lawsuit.

  • Remote work, hybrid schedules complicate payments for commute time

    The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in countless hybrid and remote work situations, and employers continue to grapple with compensable versus noncompensable time. A December 2020 opinion letter from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) may provide clarity.

  • Marijuana: how to handle your employees getting high

    Rules on when and where citizens can use marijuana vary significantly between jurisdictions, and no unifying federal guidance is in sight. So, how do employers, particularly those in multiple states, deal with the dope dilemma?

  • How pandemic, political shifts have affected Affordable Care Act

    Pandemic-related and political shifts regarding Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the part that prohibits employer discrimination, have occurred over the last few years. Read on to learn what you need to know about (1) long-haul COVID-19 and disability discrimination and (2) the Biden administration's approach to gender discrimination.

  • Biden's COVID-19 action plan toggles between hard, soft vaccine mandates

    President Joe Biden's new COVID-19 action plan is using his regulatory powers to try to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, estimated to be more than 80 million people. The plan includes both "hard" mandates for certain healthcare workers and federal employees and "soft" mandates for private-sector workers in businesses with more than 100 employees. In addition, it will provide paid time off (PTO) for most workers to get vaccinated. Read on to learn more.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.