The District of Columbia has enacted emergency legislation expanding the District’s Universal Paid Leave Act (UPLA). The legislation takes effect on October 1, 2021, and lasts for no more than 90 days.

In addition, the D.C. Mayor signed legislation to make these changes permanent. That legislation is in its 30-day Congressional review period. The legislation also expands eligibility for leave under the District’s Family and Medical Leave Act (D.C. FMLA).  Read more about these developments.

When use or disclosure of an individual’s health information or medical records is at issue, the assumption seems to be, much more often than not, that the HIPAA privacy and security rules apply. This has certainly been the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, it is true that in most healthcare settings, HIPAA is the primary law governing the use and disclosure of individually identifiable health information. However, HIPAA is often incorrectly applied in workplace settings.

Recently, in an effort to clarify some of these issues as they relate to COVID-19 vaccination data, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency responsible for enforcing the HIPAA privacy and security rules (the “HIPAA rules”), issued this guidance. We have summarized some of the key points here.

The temporary COVID-19 Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave (MA EPSL) has been extended through April 1, 2022.

In spring 2021, Massachusetts established a statewide mandate for employers to temporarily provide employees up to 40 hours of MA EPSL when they are unable to work due to specific qualifying reasons related to the pandemic. The law was set to expire on September 30, 2021, but a legislative amendment has extended the law through April 1, 2022. In addition, the new law extends the coverage of the MA EPSL to allow leave to care for family members receiving immunization or recovering from immunization.  Read more about this development here.

On September 14, 2021, the Allegheny County Council unanimously approved a new paid sick leave ordinance (the “County Ordinance”) requiring employers with 26 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to its employees.  The County Ordinance comes on the heels of a nearly identical paid sick leave law vetoed in March of this year. It does not apply to independent contractors, State and Federal employees or certain seasonal employees.

The County Ordinance mandates that employees accrue one (1) hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked within the geographical boundaries of Allegheny County, unless the employer provides a faster accrual rate. Employees may accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year (any regular and consecutive 12-month period as defined by the employer) and may use the time:

  1. for the diagnosis, care or treatment (including preventative care) of the employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; or
  2. to care for a family with a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition or who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment (including preventive care) of same; or
  3. if the employee’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or an employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed for that reason; or
  4. to care for a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities or a health care provider that the family member’s presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the family member’s exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the family member has actually contracted the communicable disease.

The County Ordinance contains notice requirements for employers as well as requirements for employees requesting paid sick time.  Employers have the option of permitting employees to (a) carry over accrued paid sick time so long as the total paid sick time available does not exceed 40 hours per year or (b) front load the 40 hours in which case no carry-over policy would be necessary.  Employees begin to accrue paid sick leave at the commencement of employment, and are entitled to use accrued paid sick time beginning on the 90th day of employment.

The County Ordinance’s notice requirements are effective immediately, and the remainder of the Ordinance takes effect 90 calendar days following the County’s posting of the notice information for employers.  Employers can be fined up to $100 each time they violate the County Ordinance. The County Ordinance is silent on its interplay with the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act, which went into effect in March 2020 and provides paid sick leave to eligible employees who work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh, which, of course, is also located in Allegheny County.  Future guidance on this issue is anticipated.

If you have questions or need assistance, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work or any member of our DLHM team.

Amendments to the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) will go into effect on January 1, 2022, and employees will be entitled to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period, instead of the current 16 weeks of leave in a 24-month period. (The amendments also provide that employees may be entitled to two additional weeks if they have an incapacitating serious health condition related to pregnancy beginning January 1.)

Employers should prepare to address employees who request 16 weeks of continuous Connecticut FMLA leave from now to the end of 2021, as the requested leave period will run into 2022. Our Connecticut colleagues provide guidance on these issues here.

A flurry of employment law-related bills are headed to Governor Newsom for consideration, however, no bills are being presented related to statewide supplemental paid sick leave. In March 2021, California resurrected and expanded statewide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.  The legislation sunsets on September 30, 2021, and there is no legislation pending to extend it.

Read our full coverage on Jackson Lewis California Workplace Law Blog.

On September 9, 2021, the White House issued Path Out of the Pandemic: President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan . The Plan outlines a six-pronged approach, portions of which will impose new obligations on employers across the country. Read more about these new obligations.

Missouri employers with at least 20 employees will soon be obligated to provide leave to victims of domestic or sexual violence under the Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA), signed into law by Governor Mike Parson on August 28, 2021. VESSA also requires employers to provide employees notice of the new law no later than October 27, 2021. Read more about these new obligations.

Over its regular and two special sessions, the Texas legislature has passed several bills that are or soon will be in effect and will impact employers’ workplace policies and procedures. Additional special legislative sessions yet may be held and, with them, more changes may be on the horizon. Read more about these developments.