Quick Hits - January 5, 2022 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - January 5, 2022

New 2022 W-4 has been issued by the IRS: Click 2022 Form W-4 for the updated form.

Is your telephone system compliant for 911 calls?  The Ray Baum’s Act (the “Act”) requires companies to implement additional safeguards related to dialing 911 from the companies’ phone systems and including any software programs used by computers to make phone calls. Aspects of the Act related to landlines/VOIP phones are already in effect and were less controversial. However, many companies have been caught off-guard by the fact the Act applies to software technology and the enforcement of that aspect of the Act will occur as of January 6, 2022. Many companies utilize software programs like Jabber, Webex, Teams, Zoom, and other platforms that allow for the ability to make phone calls from a computer.  If your company operates a multi-line phone system, the Act applies, and you should take notice that the penalties for non-compliance are stiff. Fines of $10,000 per violation plus $500/day/violation can be levied against those companies that are non-compliant.  Source:  Spencer Fane LLP 12/27/21

A new study as to why employees are leaving: GoodFirms has published a new survey report, "Who Can Stop This Unstoppable Great Resignation?." The purpose of the survey was to uncover and analyze the reasons for the mass exodus of employees in the post-peak pandemic era. The research reveals some of the most shocking trends and employee work-life metrics leading to the great reshuffling. Included in the findings:  33.7% of employees still want WFH (Work from Home); 21.2% of employees are planning to quit their jobs while 29.8% are not sure about it; 30.7% of employees cited frequent stress and work-related burnout; 23.08 % of employees are struggling with mental depression; 17.31% of employees think they can do better if they leave the current job; 37.5% of employees fear infection while working from the office; 21.1% of employees think their current salaries are not enough; 25.9% of employees remain discontent with their increments and promotions; 21.1% are not happy with career development opportunities; and 19.2% of employees are indignant about their managers' role and behavior towards them.  Given the study, employers cannot go back to the pre-pandemic ways and should focus on flexibility, total compensation, manager training, and movement within the organization.  Source:  GoodFirms.com

CDC amends COVID quarantine and isolation guidelines:  On December 27, 2021, the CDC shortened the recommended isolation period for all persons with COVID-19. Under the revised guidance, individuals only need to isolate for 5 days instead of 10 days following the onset of symptoms or a positive test if asymptomatic. As long as there are no symptoms or symptoms are resolving isolation can end after 5 days. The CDC also recommends that individuals continue to wear a face mask around others for at least 5 days following this initial 5-day isolation period. As of January 4, 2022 they added guidance around testing at day 5. While not required, for those who choose to test at day 5 and get a positive result ,they should continue to isolate for the additional 5 days. Click here for updated ASE quarantine/isolation chart.  The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be updating its quarantine guidance for the general public to reflect the recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  If you are caring for a sick one at home, the WHO offers a graphic with tips. Source: Seyfarth Shaw 12/30/21, Yahoo News 12/30/21

OSHA scraps ETS for healthcare workers: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that it is withdrawing most of the Emergency Temporary Standard for healthcare employers (Healthcare ETS) it promulgated more than six months ago.  The agency did not withdraw recordkeeping provisions requiring COVID-19 logs and case reports, as they were promulgated under separate provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act).  OSHA “strongly urges” continued compliance with the withdrawn standard, promising to use the discontinued requirements of the Healthcare ETS to “vigorously enforce” the General Duty Clause, a “catch-all” provision of the OSH Act covering hazards not addressed in promulgated standards. OSHA also promised to renew enforcement of general standards governing respiratory protection and personal protective equipment. OSHA will formalize its announcement with a notice in the Federal Register.  In the meantime, assuming the employer ETS is upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, healthcare organizations over 100 employees are required to comply with those standards.  Source:  Jackson Lewis 12/28/21

Employers starting to require boosters for fully vaccinated: Millions of U.S. workers are already required to show proof of a COVID vaccine to their employer. Soon many could be forced to show proof that they also got a booster shot. With the rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, public health officials are stressing that a booster shot is more important than ever. Many who got their initial vaccine dose or doses more than six months ago could have limited protection against the easily transmissible Omicron. A booster dose is believed to provide important protections against it. A survey of 200 major employers conducted by consulting firm Gartner found 8% of employers are changing their definition of what constitutes "fully vaccinated" and requiring workers to get booster shots. That's roughly one of every six of the 46% of U.S. employers that either have a vaccine mandate in place or plan to institute one. Among the states with a booster mandate already in place is New Mexico, which just required that health care workers who were already required to be vaccinated must get a booster shot by Jan. 17. State workers and public school teachers, who must be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, will also need to get booster shots to be considered fully vaccinated.  Source:  CNN 12/22/21

COVID costs businesses $1 billion per week: Employers have been hit hard by COVID in more ways than one, and now, hidden financial costs are adding up to have an overwhelming impact on businesses. New research from the Integrated Benefits Institute has found that, on average, pandemic-related absenteeism is creating $1 billion in employer losses each week.  Over the past 22 months, the pandemic has cost employers more than $78.4 billion, according to the nonprofit research firm. That’s more than a $25 billion increase since IBI last analyzed the financial impact of COVID on employers, back in April of 2021. Over the course of the pandemic, employers have paid $24.3 billion in sick leave, $16.6 billion in disability wages, $35.3 billion in employee benefits. Employers in California and New York have paid $2.2 billion in disability insurance, according to the IBI data. New York, California, and Texas are the three states with the highest lost work time, according to the research.  Source:  EBN 12/2721


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