In case you took the last few weeks to take your mind off of HR concerns, here is some of what you might have missed…
IRS Business Mileage Reimbursement Rate Increase
The IRS raised the mileage reimbursement rate it allows employers to pay employees for the business use of their auto to 58.5 cents per mile. See EPTW 12/22/21 Quick Hits for more information.
Michigan’s Minimum Wage Increase
Michigan’s minimum wage rate will go up to $9.87/hr. effective 1/1/2022. You may recall that last year (2021) it did not go up as per the law’s increase schedule. This was because of a somewhat obscure provision in that law the scheduled minimum wage increase would be held for any year in which Michigan’s unemployment rate was above 8.5%. Because of the impact the COVID pandemic had on Michigan’s 2020 unemployment rate, it was above 8.5% resulting in the 2020 minimum wage staying at $9.65/hour for 2021. Download the required Michigan minimum wage poster here.
OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for Mandated Employer Vaccination or Testing and Masking Stay Lifted
OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requiring employers with 100 or more employees to adopt a policy requiring employee vaccination or weekly employee testing and masking is currently being implemented. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ stay on the ETS was lifted December 17th by a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit. In response, OSHA immediately gave notice that covered employers will have until January 10th to implement the majority of the compliance policy within their workplace and require vaccination of workers by February 9, 2022, remove unvaccinated workers from the workplace, or require weekly COVID testing and require mask wearing for unvaccinated employees.
The Sixth Circuit’s decision to remove the stay was immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). SCOTUS scheduled a special hearing on the stay this coming Friday, January 7th. One source ASE recently spoke to about how quickly SCOTUS may act on the stay saw a ruling by January 9th. Stay tuned, and we shall see.
CDC Updates COVID Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) modified their quarantine and isolation period recommendation last week and just yesterday (January 4) updated their quarantine and isolation guidance again.
People who are confirmed to have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of COVID-19 need to isolate regardless of their vaccination status. This includes:
- People who have a positive viral test for COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
- People with symptoms of COVID-19, including people who are awaiting test results or have not been tested. People with symptoms should isolate even if they do not know if they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
As of just yesterday the CDC Isolation guidance states:
If you have COVID-19 and have symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. To calculate your 5-day isolation period, day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed. You can leave isolation after 5 full days.
- You can end isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation).
- You should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public for 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of your 5-day isolation period. If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you should continue to isolate for a full 10 days. Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
- If you continue to have fever or your other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should wait to end your isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Continue to wear a well-fitting mask. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.
- Do not travel during your 5-day isolation period. After you end isolation, avoid travel until a full 10 days after your first day of symptoms. If you must travel on days 6-10, wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others for the entire duration of travel. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during the 10 days.
- Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until a full 10 days after your first day of symptoms.
- If an individual has access to a test and wants to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test towards the end of the 5-day isolation period. Collect the test sample only if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation). If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10. If your test result is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10. Follow additional recommendations for masking and restricting travel as described above.
The CDC guidance on who should quarantine now states:
For those who are exposed to COVID-19 due to close contact (defined as being less than six feet away for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who is infected (laboratory-confirmed or clinical diagnosis):
Boosted or Fully Vaccinated in last 6 months (Moderna/Pfizer) or last 2 months (J&J)
- Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
- Test on day 5, if possible.
- If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
Fully vaccinated more than 6 months ago (Moderna/Pfizer) and not boosted, fully vaccinated more than 2 months ago (J&J) and not boosted, or unvaccinated
- Stay home (quarantine) for 5 days. After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
- If you can’t quarantine, you must wear a mask for 10 days.
- Test on day 5 if possible.
- If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home
CDC Guidance on Quarantine and Isolation Updated January 4th 2022
Download ASE’s easy-to-read chart for CDC Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines here.
Status of Michigan Employer COVID Compliance
Sean Egan, Deputy Director, Labor and Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety stated that although Michigan has not officially adopted the OSHA ETS, it has until January 24, 2022 and has sent its intent to adopt the rule. Michigan will adopt the ETS by “reference” making Michigan’s vaccination or test and mask rule the same as the OSHA ETS. Mr. Egan stated that if an employer is covered by federal OSHA ETS they are required to implement the ETS in accordance with OSHA’s timeline.
Michigan’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) in the past (8/12/2021) has advised employers should also follow updated CDC guidance. In a release dated 12/31/21 they announced they will align their general public isolation and quarantine guidelines with the new CDC guidelines.
As always ASE will report on federal and state compliance developments to keep our members up to date on what they are required to do as well as employer best practices.
Sources: Supreme Court Will Hold Special Session on OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS, as well as Healthcare CMS Vaccination Mandate Seyfarth Shaw Workplace Safety and Environmental Law Alert Blog 12/23/2021; CDC Media Statement 12/27/2021