Recorded live on March 2nd at 2 PM EST
COVID Vaccine Mandates: What Should Transportation Companies Do Next?
00:03:32.490 –> 00:03:40.560
Paul Carelis: All right, i’m gonna go ahead and kick things off, so thank you so much for joining us today really looking forward to diving into this topic.
00:03:41.640 –> 00:03:56.790
Paul Carelis: I think the good news, you know to report here is that this will probably be a slightly shorter session than what we were anticipating when we first thought of this topic when we were still very much in the throes of coven and the data was not looking good.
00:03:59.100 –> 00:04:11.940
Paul Carelis: Fortunately, things are starting to trend in the right direction, whether or not that continues to be the case, I think we’re all hoping for a yes, there, but always wise to be prepared for for the worst but.
00:04:13.110 –> 00:04:21.180
Paul Carelis: Hopefully, this should be a fairly straightforward session, but just because the numbers are improving and the consistent consensus.
00:04:21.750 –> 00:04:32.730
Paul Carelis: When you you pull people as improving doesn’t mean that are the woods yet or that this is easy, an easy decision for employers to make in terms of how to how to handle things like matt masks and vaccines.
00:04:33.960 –> 00:04:34.350
Paul Carelis: So.
00:04:36.090 –> 00:04:38.460
Paul Carelis: Without further ado let’s go ahead and kick things off.
00:04:41.850 –> 00:04:45.030
Paul Carelis: So those For those of you who are not familiar with us.
00:04:47.130 –> 00:05:01.200
Paul Carelis: I represent MP wired for HR we’re a full service human capital management company we offer HR advisement payroll services benefit admin time and attendance and compliance support supporting businesses.
00:05:02.160 –> 00:05:12.900
Paul Carelis: All over the country and all all different industries very proud to partner with the livery association here to provide content and also HR support for Members.
00:05:15.630 –> 00:05:25.650
Paul Carelis: My name is Paul Cornelis I am the Vice President of HR and tax credit services here at at MP and really looking forward to diving into the content today.
00:05:26.520 –> 00:05:36.540
Paul Carelis: A couple quick housekeeping items first a brief legal disclaimer unfortunately i’m not an attorney so please don’t construe anything I share today’s legal advice, but rather.
00:05:37.080 –> 00:05:56.730
Paul Carelis: Some best practices from an HR perspective, also, and this topic, probably more than any other, is is quickly changing so if you are watching a recording of this just note that the information is current as of March 2 2022 but constantly evolving for sure.
00:05:57.750 –> 00:06:06.120
Paul Carelis: And then the last housekeeping item, if you do you have any questions, especially about this topic, but you know, certainly, while you have me here if there’s anything else HR related that.
00:06:06.480 –> 00:06:19.410
Paul Carelis: I may be able to help with in today’s session, please do use the Q amp a function within zoom you should see it on your information, bar there feel free to type in any questions you might have in the Q amp a and we’ll do our best to get to those.
00:06:20.430 –> 00:06:21.900
Paul Carelis: In the session this afternoon.
00:06:25.500 –> 00:06:33.390
Paul Carelis: So what we hope to to cover today is just a overview of covert or leg related legislation when it comes to.
00:06:34.410 –> 00:06:40.560
Paul Carelis: employer requirements we’ll also talk about significant court rulings that have occurred in terms of.
00:06:42.300 –> 00:06:47.730
Paul Carelis: When employees have challenged various policies at their employers and the success rate with those.
00:06:49.080 –> 00:06:55.620
Paul Carelis: that’ll kind of naturally flow into what you can and cannot do as an employer when it comes to policies around kuvan 19.
00:06:57.360 –> 00:07:03.840
Paul Carelis: also take a look at state laws which may compliance, especially tricky, especially if you have employees and different locations.
00:07:05.220 –> 00:07:15.720
Paul Carelis: will talk about some some tips and tricks, especially for employers and employers within the transportation industry and, as promised, be sure to handle any Q amp a that may come in.
00:07:21.870 –> 00:07:26.670
Paul Carelis: So first things first we’ll we’ll kick it off with legislation and and the Supreme Court.
00:07:28.110 –> 00:07:49.050
Paul Carelis: So, as you almost certainly i’ve heard the vaccine mandate that was put in place via executive order by President Biden that would have required all private employers with 50 or more employees to require vaccines or weekly testing of their employees was struck down by the Supreme Court.
00:07:50.400 –> 00:07:54.120
Paul Carelis: The Department of Labor Labor and OSHA who was going to kind of be the.
00:07:55.560 –> 00:08:03.150
Paul Carelis: Enforcement body for that did formally withdraw that, so it is off the table for right now and.
00:08:04.080 –> 00:08:15.390
Paul Carelis: And they’re they’re supposedly working on on something else but we’ll see but as of right now there is no vaccine mandy in place for private employers.
00:08:16.290 –> 00:08:21.240
Paul Carelis: The one exception to that, and this is also something that the Supreme Court weighed in on was.
00:08:22.050 –> 00:08:30.240
Paul Carelis: Really, the President biden’s executive orders around vaccine mandates were kind of three pronged so there’s there was the one that everyone kind of heard about.
00:08:30.750 –> 00:08:43.200
Paul Carelis: For the private employers, there was also one specific to the health care industry so really any business that takes medicare medicaid funding so most healthcare settings.
00:08:44.550 –> 00:08:49.320
Paul Carelis: The Supreme Court also heard arguments about that and held it up so.
00:08:51.180 –> 00:08:59.250
Paul Carelis: If you have loved ones, if you have customers of yours passengers who are in the healthcare industry and are talking about a vaccine mandate that’s why.
00:08:59.850 –> 00:09:10.590
Paul Carelis: The healthcare mandate is in place and in most cases, does not allow for a testing testing out option, so they do indeed have to be vaccinated.
00:09:12.030 –> 00:09:21.090
Paul Carelis: The third prong was for federal contractors, so there may be some instances where within your livery operations, you may be a.
00:09:22.020 –> 00:09:36.330
Paul Carelis: federal contractor or do business for a federal contractor, so they had a mandate as well that one was challenge and rose up to the District Court level has not yet been heard by the Supreme Court.
00:09:37.260 –> 00:09:45.930
Paul Carelis: What they did in that case was they did put the vaccine mandate aspect on hold, they said that you know that they’re kind of suspending the.
00:09:46.950 –> 00:09:55.110
Paul Carelis: Enforcement of that, but there were other aspects, within that federal contractor mandate things like masking social distancing.
00:09:56.490 –> 00:10:04.920
Paul Carelis: Other measures intended for a safe workplace for federal contractors and based on the District Court ruling those still apply.
00:10:08.490 –> 00:10:12.150
Paul Carelis: OSHA is said to be working on a permanent coven safety standard.
00:10:13.290 –> 00:10:27.690
Paul Carelis: So it kind of be a set of universal ground rules for how employers are expected to comply with various measures to ensure a safe work environment as possible, as it pertains to the risk posed by coven 19.
00:10:29.160 –> 00:10:34.710
Paul Carelis: They said that that could be coming out, and as soon as three to six months.
00:10:35.940 –> 00:10:43.740
Paul Carelis: When you talk to experts, though, when you know the stuff that OSHA has released a date was all emergency standards so those came up pretty quickly.
00:10:45.690 –> 00:10:58.740
Paul Carelis: To have a permanent safety standard on any topic generally has taken years rather than months to put in place, because there are very specific rules and creating a safety standard at similar to.
00:10:59.400 –> 00:11:12.600
Paul Carelis: Other department of Labor rules, so it has you know it has to be released in draft form any comments from the from the public or questions or concerns have to be kind of vetted out and responded to.
00:11:13.740 –> 00:11:18.900
Paul Carelis: So, in all likelihood, as much as unless they do some kind of special rulemaking that i’m not aware of.
00:11:20.400 –> 00:11:33.180
Paul Carelis: The the placement of a covert safety standard is probably quite a ways away, but certainly stay tuned if there is one that comes out, even if it is on draft form and creates an opportunity for some public comment.
00:11:34.350 –> 00:11:38.250
Paul Carelis: We will be sure to update our nila resorts page which i’ll talk about in a moment.
00:11:40.380 –> 00:11:44.700
Paul Carelis: And then also will be sending out information and probably doing a webinar on it.
00:11:47.850 –> 00:12:05.790
Paul Carelis: Another important thing to keep in mind as well, everything we’ve talked about so far has been at the federal level, there are many states and cities, who have various coven rules, whether that be masked mandates vaccine mandates proof of vaccination to enter businesses things like that.
00:12:06.870 –> 00:12:10.080
Paul Carelis: With changes to to the coven.
00:12:11.580 –> 00:12:36.090
Paul Carelis: Positive case data, along with changes to CDC guidance, which has been updated as recently as a few hours ago in terms of best practices for contact racing they also earlier this week really revamped their kind of risk assessment and mask recommendations, based on risk assessment so.
00:12:37.260 –> 00:12:43.230
Paul Carelis: Things kind of transformed from 90% of the country being high risks to only about 30% of the country being high risk.
00:12:44.280 –> 00:12:52.980
Paul Carelis: And with that if if a area of the country is considered low risk the CDC recommendation is that you know masks really aren’t.
00:12:54.330 –> 00:12:57.660
Paul Carelis: necessary, in most cases, for most people so.
00:12:59.040 –> 00:13:11.340
Paul Carelis: With that many states many cities many local governments are reevaluating masking and vaccine requirements so it’s it’s ever changing but something to keep in mind for wherever you’re doing business.
00:13:17.160 –> 00:13:23.010
Paul Carelis: So let’s talk about some significant court rulings that have have transpired since the start of coven.
00:13:24.600 –> 00:13:31.680
Paul Carelis: So wow the federal mandate has been struck down, you know, it was considered a little bit of overreach.
00:13:34.530 –> 00:13:40.080
Paul Carelis: Many businesses that you’ve probably heard did create their own vaccine mandates both before.
00:13:41.640 –> 00:13:44.400
Paul Carelis: The White House introduced there’s as well as after.
00:13:45.810 –> 00:13:51.300
Paul Carelis: So, while the federal all private employer mandate was shot down.
00:13:52.320 –> 00:14:01.980
Paul Carelis: almost universally employers hey you know what their own company level vaccine mandates have been withheld so employees have challenge they’ve sued.
00:14:04.230 –> 00:14:06.300
Paul Carelis: A vaccine mandate by their employer.
00:14:07.980 –> 00:14:18.210
Paul Carelis: But pretty much everyone in the courts, and you know everything from State courts, the federal courts district appeals all of that have withheld upheld rather.
00:14:19.500 –> 00:14:24.960
Paul Carelis: vaccine mandates so and that goes across industries, whether it be.
00:14:26.340 –> 00:14:41.040
Paul Carelis: You know Tyson foods and manufacturing, the first one that really caught the mainstream was hospital system in Texas believe in the Houston area they were the really first significant challenge to the vaccine mandate.
00:14:42.900 –> 00:14:59.010
Paul Carelis: But the Court upheld that they allowed the hospital to terminate employment for people who did not come in compliance with the vaccine mandate, and that was given the courts blessing similarly similar action was upheld within the New York City school district.
00:15:00.210 –> 00:15:06.180
Paul Carelis: and, probably, at least in terms of mainstream court cases, the one that would tie most closely to.
00:15:07.440 –> 00:15:13.200
Paul Carelis: Your industry would be within the airline so several airlines created vaccine mandates.
00:15:14.310 –> 00:15:24.990
Paul Carelis: The one that received the most challenge was united airlines we’re going to talk about that one specifically in a few moments, because there were actually some successful challenges to certain aspects of theirs, but.
00:15:25.620 –> 00:15:32.640
Paul Carelis: By and large, those vaccine mandates have was dealt with stood legal challenge.
00:15:35.430 –> 00:15:41.430
Paul Carelis: Other court cases that have not withstood legal test as much.
00:15:42.810 –> 00:15:45.480
Paul Carelis: really have to do with accommodations.
00:15:47.790 –> 00:16:09.750
Paul Carelis: and, more specifically, the Americans with Disabilities Act, so there was a case where an employee sued their employer, because they had a policy in place, this was back earlier in the pandemic when the CDC guidance was that if you test positive, you should be quarantined for two weeks.
00:16:10.860 –> 00:16:16.800
Paul Carelis: The the company’s policy match that but, at least according to the employee would happen was they tested positive.
00:16:17.850 –> 00:16:25.560
Paul Carelis: Company put them on the 14 days, but about a week and a half and they started calling them back and one a retest on and come back to work.
00:16:26.580 –> 00:16:45.780
Paul Carelis: The employee was still you know suffering some pretty significant symptoms and then, I believe, on day 13 and the specific case the employee was terminated they sued citing that their their covert fell under Americans with Disabilities Act that it would be considered as ability.
00:16:47.130 –> 00:16:51.810
Paul Carelis: The Court in their case is allowing the case to proceed so.
00:16:54.420 –> 00:17:03.210
Paul Carelis: it’s important to note that not every covert case qualifies as a disability and qualifies as as an Ada subject case.
00:17:05.520 –> 00:17:10.200
Paul Carelis: To really qualify as a disability, something has to be affecting.
00:17:11.340 –> 00:17:13.860
Paul Carelis: on an ongoing basis, a major life function.
00:17:14.970 –> 00:17:20.220
Paul Carelis: That being said, some of the some of the side effects of covert can qualify for that you know if they’re.
00:17:21.270 –> 00:17:22.860
Paul Carelis: You know our effects to the heart.
00:17:24.450 –> 00:17:34.560
Paul Carelis: severe restrictions on someone’s physical abilities for a length of time some of that kind of covert fog that can diminish mental capacity for for some period of time.
00:17:35.160 –> 00:17:48.210
Paul Carelis: Oh could potentially fall under Ada there is a lot of Gray area there, so if you do have someone who’s got ongoing coven limitations or side effects from from having coven.
00:17:49.560 –> 00:18:02.700
Paul Carelis: before taking any type of employment action you, you really should consult a professional to make sure that to decide whether or not there could be potential for protections under the Americans Disabilities Act, because it really is on a case by case basis.
00:18:05.220 –> 00:18:18.330
Paul Carelis: Ultimately, whether it be this case or in any others, you should in a best practice situation follow current CDC guidance for both you know whether achieving policies or handling a specific case.
00:18:18.930 –> 00:18:25.560
Paul Carelis: As it comes up the courts have generally cited in favor with employers who are following CDC guidance.
00:18:28.560 –> 00:18:35.190
Paul Carelis: We are also seeing a lot of cases out there for workplace discrimination and wrongful termination so.
00:18:37.380 –> 00:18:39.390
Paul Carelis: Obviously, many businesses were hard hit.
00:18:41.700 –> 00:18:52.140
Paul Carelis: Delivery delivery industry is no exception to that so as businesses had to make some tough decisions oftentimes laying people off terminating people.
00:18:55.260 –> 00:19:05.040
Paul Carelis: Some of those affected employees cited more you know felt that the company was making decisions based on their protected classes, rather than because of covert and the pandemic so.
00:19:05.820 –> 00:19:14.100
Paul Carelis: you’re seeing lawsuits from pregnant workers, workers who were out on maternity leave and laid off or terminated things like that so.
00:19:15.300 –> 00:19:25.860
Paul Carelis: Very important that, now more than ever you’re making a strong business case, even in the employment at will situation as to why you’re making an adverse action against an employee.
00:19:26.940 –> 00:19:38.100
Paul Carelis: and very, very clearly and officially mapping out mapping out your reasoning, whenever possible, if it is a layoff because of a reduction in force that you’re doing that.
00:19:38.640 –> 00:19:50.520
Paul Carelis: In a fair and impartial way and to the best of your abilities, making it clear that the position is being eliminated or there’s an overall reduction in force and that.
00:19:51.900 –> 00:20:01.410
Paul Carelis: To hopefully expel any thoughts from from the affected employees that there is any type of discrimination or anything else that could be illegal in play.
00:20:12.600 –> 00:20:15.180
Paul Carelis: So, as promised, I did want to touch upon.
00:20:16.200 –> 00:20:17.790
Paul Carelis: The United airlines case.
00:20:19.230 –> 00:20:24.900
Paul Carelis: So what happened with with United airlines was they they issued a vaccine mandate for all employees.
00:20:27.480 –> 00:20:28.080
Paul Carelis: and
00:20:29.160 –> 00:20:37.170
Paul Carelis: terminated folks who did not comply with the mandate and for folks who had a valid religious exemption or medical exemption.
00:20:38.490 –> 00:20:40.020
Paul Carelis: If their position was.
00:20:41.160 –> 00:20:51.000
Paul Carelis: facing the public so things like airline attendance people that work the kohner pilots, anyone who may come in contact with their passengers or the general public.
00:20:52.530 –> 00:21:03.720
Paul Carelis: The way that they decided to accommodate people who have legitimate religious exemptions was to put them on unpaid leave until they deem the pandemic to be over and not and.
00:21:05.100 –> 00:21:07.230
Paul Carelis: not be an issue for these people to return to work.
00:21:08.850 –> 00:21:20.640
Paul Carelis: So this was a court case where the district King the District Court came down pretty heavily on on United airlines, they said that the mandate as a rule is OK.
00:21:22.740 –> 00:21:29.670
Paul Carelis: But they felt that giving employees with a religious exemption, the option of either getting vaccinated.
00:21:30.540 –> 00:21:37.770
Paul Carelis: or going on unpaid leave was was really coercion that kind of saying if if you want to be able to put food on the table for your families.
00:21:38.250 –> 00:21:51.660
Paul Carelis: If you want to be able to maintain your livelihood then you’re going to have to get this vaccine or or lose you know go on paid so they felt like that was not a reasonable accommodation for the folks who had a legitimate religious exemption.
00:21:53.550 –> 00:22:03.600
Paul Carelis: So that one is still being sorted out by the courts, basically, the Court knocked it down to the lower court and their original decision and told him that kind of reconsider the circumstances so.
00:22:04.830 –> 00:22:15.060
Paul Carelis: The anchor is not yet dried on this case in terms of what united airlines is going to be able to do and how they can properly reasonably accommodate people with valid religious exemptions.
00:22:16.500 –> 00:22:28.110
Paul Carelis: But it does show a thing, and the Armor to to some of these policies out there and being very heavy handed with the mandate, so this is definitely, especially within the transportation industry.
00:22:29.550 –> 00:22:42.090
Paul Carelis: A important keys to keep your eyes on as it will probably go a long way and shaping best practice and legal precedent for how to handle employees with exemptions, especially if they’re in positions that are.
00:22:43.470 –> 00:22:44.700
Paul Carelis: interacting with the public.
00:22:52.710 –> 00:22:55.530
Paul Carelis: so well, hopefully, many of you have seen.
00:22:57.270 –> 00:23:07.320
Paul Carelis: covert cases dwindle and cases within your employment population go away, we still are certainly seeing some pop up.
00:23:07.860 –> 00:23:23.280
Paul Carelis: So it is important to note that many while federal coven leave, and you know reimburses will leave at the at the federal level has ended and ended as of September 30 last year there still are many states and cities, who do have.
00:23:24.510 –> 00:23:29.460
Paul Carelis: requirements that involve paid leave for code related instances.
00:23:30.600 –> 00:23:40.530
Paul Carelis: So, as of today, this is the most up to date list so states and cities that do currently have coven leave was include Arizona.
00:23:41.430 –> 00:23:49.560
Paul Carelis: California, if you do have employees in California, even if it’s one or two, but your overall nationwide employee Cone is over 26.
00:23:50.490 –> 00:23:58.080
Paul Carelis: You do want to take a special look at that So even if you have a dispatcher or a salesperson or whatever it may be in California.
00:23:58.710 –> 00:24:15.090
Paul Carelis: The rules, there are are pretty strict, both in terms of compliance, as well as posting and notification requirements and most onerous is that the California covert leave regulation requires you to.
00:24:16.620 –> 00:24:30.270
Paul Carelis: Put information on employee pay stubs even if coven leave isn’t being used, so you have to have something on your pay Stub or some other each pay period notification to let an employee know that.
00:24:30.930 –> 00:24:38.700
Paul Carelis: There is covert leave and they’ve used zero hours of it, so this one is especially important, and probably the trickiest to be in compliance with.
00:24:39.090 –> 00:24:49.770
Paul Carelis: So if you do happen to have anyone in California, or you have colleagues of yours out in California, you should let them know that there is a pretty hairy covert leave law that just started last month.
00:24:51.630 –> 00:25:01.830
Paul Carelis: In California, there are also dozens of cities and counties that have their own specific cool would leave regulations you want to make sure you’re in compliance with, if applicable.
00:25:03.420 –> 00:25:09.720
Paul Carelis: And then Colorado Massachusetts so I know we do have a large population here in Massachusetts there is still.
00:25:10.920 –> 00:25:16.950
Paul Carelis: covert leave required for you to to provide up to 40 hours for employees.
00:25:18.390 –> 00:25:20.700
Paul Carelis: as of right now that’s through next month.
00:25:23.700 –> 00:25:31.650
Paul Carelis: It is reimburse but you do have to do have to provide it, and then go to mass mass tax connect and apply for the reimbursement through the state.
00:25:36.840 –> 00:25:49.470
Paul Carelis: Other states with with kuvan leave laws, including Nevada New Jersey New York City, the city of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Washington state and Washington DC.
00:25:57.000 –> 00:26:03.450
Paul Carelis: So, in terms of some tips for employers and how they can best navigate everything that’s going on right now.
00:26:05.760 –> 00:26:09.300
Paul Carelis: If you do want to want or decide it’s best for you to have a mask policy.
00:26:10.530 –> 00:26:11.880
Paul Carelis: You do want to be specific.
00:26:13.950 –> 00:26:22.530
Paul Carelis: What are the requirements are employees inspect expected to wear those in public areas I expected to wear masks and in the office setting.
00:26:23.370 –> 00:26:32.610
Paul Carelis: When they’re driving vehicles when they have a passenger present, but they can take it off on there isn’t a passenger present you want to be as specific as possible with the masking policy.
00:26:34.980 –> 00:26:43.410
Paul Carelis: If if you wish to you may want to have something in there about passenger request, so there may not be a general mask policy at your organization, but.
00:26:43.980 –> 00:26:54.210
Paul Carelis: If you hear from a passenger that they’re immunocompromised or otherwise, with the driver to be master that something you want to accommodate you should write that into the policy.
00:26:56.550 –> 00:27:03.750
Paul Carelis: As mentioned before you want to be mindful of any changes to CDC guidance and help that kind of lead the way a little bit.
00:27:04.380 –> 00:27:20.730
Paul Carelis: And then also be mindful of any local regulations masking requirements, what have you, especially if if you do have drivers who are entering airports, what the requirements are there and just making sure that they’re being compliant with with the requirements in those locations.
00:27:22.980 –> 00:27:40.050
Paul Carelis: If you want to take things a step further and and issue a vaccine mandate to your staff First things first you want to give a reasonable amount of time for employees to comply with it, so in terms of the vaccine mandates that have been legally challenging with and upheld.
00:27:42.960 –> 00:27:57.540
Paul Carelis: we’ve seen most of those create a kind of a 60 day period of compliance so from when the policy is announced to when employees have to be in compliance with it a 60 day turnaround time has been kind of deemed as acceptable.
00:27:59.940 –> 00:28:10.650
Paul Carelis: As we’ve seen with the United keys you do want to allow for religious and medical exemptions, you also want to outline the process for how someone should should go about claiming that so there should be some paperwork involved.
00:28:12.600 –> 00:28:28.140
Paul Carelis: There was a medical Center that kind of made it very easy for employees to claim exemption and not to say you want to create too many, too many barriers, but you don’t want to make it overly simplified either.
00:28:30.270 –> 00:28:32.970
Paul Carelis: That can that can have a bad luck and create some scrutiny.
00:28:36.420 –> 00:28:45.060
Paul Carelis: And it is also okay to kind of vary the policy based on legitimate business rationale so again, if you want to.
00:28:45.600 –> 00:28:58.530
Paul Carelis: Have a different set of rules for folks who come in contact with with your customers that’s generally Okay, if you then want to limit it to you know if you have people who work remotely your work from home or work in the office.
00:29:00.240 –> 00:29:07.770
Paul Carelis: You got to do it very carefully and be very nuanced with it, but there are ways to kind of have different rules for different.
00:29:09.360 –> 00:29:10.590
Paul Carelis: varieties of employees.
00:29:18.660 –> 00:29:27.270
Paul Carelis: Some other tips outside of having specific mandates or policies, you are allowed to collect vaccine information, even if you don’t have a mandate.
00:29:27.690 –> 00:29:43.410
Paul Carelis: So you may, in the course of business have a request for you know I i’d really prefer I need to have a driver who’s who’s vaccinated because i’m immunocompromised or whatever the reason may be, and if you do want to accommodate that you know, obviously, would help if you had a kind of.
00:29:44.460 –> 00:30:00.480
Paul Carelis: list internally, of which which employees of yours or fully vaccinated, so it is okay to collect that information or or acquire you know kind of employees to report that what I will advise is don’t pry for explanations if people aren’t vaccinated.
00:30:02.490 –> 00:30:11.610
Paul Carelis: You may then kind of dive into requesting medical information or medical reasoning that you, you may not want to be privy to.
00:30:13.440 –> 00:30:23.760
Paul Carelis: It could create some compliance issues there, but it is perfectly acceptable to require all employees to to report on their vaccination status.
00:30:25.860 –> 00:30:38.040
Paul Carelis: And maybe a good idea to survey your staff so in many ways, employers are kind of in a no win situation here, if you have had policies in place about masking or about vaccination and you’re thinking about lifting those.
00:30:40.020 –> 00:30:47.580
Paul Carelis: The country is still kind of split in terms of sentiments on that whether people feel that was the right time, if people feel it’s too soon.
00:30:48.960 –> 00:31:02.190
Paul Carelis: So it might be a good idea to get a pulse of of your staff to see where their heads are at, and you know if you were to make some changes, you know how much of the staff may be negatively impacted by that or raise concerns about it.
00:31:05.220 –> 00:31:13.830
Paul Carelis: If any of you have allowed or utilized remote workers, you know, obviously that’s not an option for for drivers and people.
00:31:14.160 –> 00:31:25.260
Paul Carelis: Providing transportation, but you might have sales teams, you might have dispatchers you might have marketing folks any other non non driving roles, who may have been allowed to report remotely.
00:31:29.820 –> 00:31:39.900
Paul Carelis: It is you know many businesses are starting to call people back to the office one to now report back to duty and the way that they were pre coated.
00:31:40.830 –> 00:31:49.770
Paul Carelis: I will just say prepare yourself for some battle there it’s you know the cat kind of got out of the back a little bit we opened up pandora’s box out of necessity.
00:31:51.360 –> 00:31:57.060
Paul Carelis: We wanted to maintain our businesses, we wanted to maintain a safe workplace protect our employees.
00:31:58.440 –> 00:32:02.550
Paul Carelis: and be able to get the job done to the best that we could given all of the restrictions and all the.
00:32:03.570 –> 00:32:09.480
Paul Carelis: rules, we had to follow and really all the best practices when it came to not spreading disease.
00:32:12.450 –> 00:32:28.290
Paul Carelis: Unfortunately, you know this went on for quite a while some employees are going on now, you know close to two years of working remotely and so it’s a difficult task in terms of bringing them back to the office but, that being said, many businesses are doing so.
00:32:29.910 –> 00:32:42.240
Paul Carelis: What we’re seeing out there when that happens is you know all of a sudden employees are saying hey you know i’ve got this condition I don’t feel it’s safe for me to do so, I cannot return to the office because of this that or the other things so.
00:32:44.190 –> 00:32:55.200
Paul Carelis: Just prepare yourselves for some of those tricky conversations, the first and most important piece of advice is, if possible, have a job description that speaks to why you feel that.
00:32:55.710 –> 00:33:01.980
Paul Carelis: that the job is best done in person and can’t really be achieved to the full extent remotely.
00:33:02.640 –> 00:33:15.120
Paul Carelis: Ultimately it’s your decision, if you want to just have people report to the office that’s your prerogative, this one more come into play when people have accommodation requests, so if they say hey i’ve got this condition i’ve got this situation.
00:33:17.490 –> 00:33:26.400
Paul Carelis: i’m really best served by working working from home, the more you can point to the job description and why you can’t reasonably accommodate them working remotely.
00:33:27.570 –> 00:33:29.130
Paul Carelis: will help your argument greatly.
00:33:30.180 –> 00:33:30.540
Paul Carelis: So.
00:33:31.620 –> 00:33:37.890
Paul Carelis: If this is a situation for you again just prepare yourselves for some conversations that are going to be difficult and not very fun.
00:33:38.820 –> 00:33:49.860
Paul Carelis: But the more you can base it on fact on essential functions of the job within a job description and your business related argument as to why you feel those are best done at your work location and not from home.
00:33:51.090 –> 00:33:57.000
Paul Carelis: will make that more objective, more to the point, and hopefully create less back and forth.
00:34:04.260 –> 00:34:13.830
Paul Carelis: You also want to make sure you’re promoting any measures that you’re taking in regards to Cobra prevention, both internally and externally, certainly from a marketing and a business.
00:34:15.690 –> 00:34:23.730
Paul Carelis: perspective it’s great for your customers and your potential passengers to know all the measures you’re taking to make sure you’re keeping them safe.
00:34:24.810 –> 00:34:28.080
Paul Carelis: But it’s also important to make sure that’s communicated to the staff as well.
00:34:29.790 –> 00:34:31.980
Paul Carelis: While OSHA has been somewhat limited in.
00:34:33.630 –> 00:34:34.890
Paul Carelis: What they can enforce.
00:34:36.060 –> 00:34:45.360
Paul Carelis: I will say that the OSHA inspections, we have seen i’ve all been from employee complaint, so an employee reaching out to OSHA saying might work places on safe night.
00:34:45.840 –> 00:34:51.810
Paul Carelis: My employer is not taking covert seriously they’re putting us at risk because they’re doing this we’re not doing that.
00:34:52.350 –> 00:35:00.000
Paul Carelis: And there have been cases where that’s resulted in an OSHA inspection so obviously we want to avoid OSHA inspections as much as possible.
00:35:00.630 –> 00:35:12.540
Paul Carelis: So, the more you can do to show to your workforce, as well as your customer base that you are taking covert seriously and taking safety precaution should hopefully eliminate the risk for for code.
00:35:13.830 –> 00:35:15.360
Paul Carelis: For OSHA inspections.
00:35:16.560 –> 00:35:19.710
Paul Carelis: I will say there was a court case where.
00:35:22.560 –> 00:35:25.620
Paul Carelis: He pencil a group of employees in Pennsylvania.
00:35:26.760 –> 00:35:37.590
Paul Carelis: felt that their employer was not taking proper precautions and creating an unsafe work environment they contacted OSHA OSHA came in took a look at it felt that what they doing what they were doing was sufficient.
00:35:38.820 –> 00:35:41.310
Paul Carelis: Employees went back and wanted OSHA to do more.
00:35:42.630 –> 00:35:46.290
Paul Carelis: Or should said no, and the course held that up, they said.
00:35:47.490 –> 00:35:51.750
Paul Carelis: Whatever OSHA kind of deems initially as a safe or unsafe work environment.
00:35:52.800 –> 00:35:53.850
Paul Carelis: is good enough.
00:35:56.610 –> 00:36:03.390
Paul Carelis: So whatever the topic, one thing you know my My big keynote someday at a big conference somewhere is going to be that.
00:36:04.380 –> 00:36:11.940
Paul Carelis: In HR we also have to wear our PR hats at all times so, especially if there’s a written policy or written communication.
00:36:12.570 –> 00:36:22.950
Paul Carelis: Whatever you decide to do around your measures that you feel are necessary or required in terms of masking vaccines general safety practices.
00:36:23.910 –> 00:36:33.090
Paul Carelis: Make sure you’re reading that over a few times, or have some other people review it from a from a public relations perspective because, especially now, in the information age.
00:36:33.870 –> 00:36:43.200
Paul Carelis: It is so easy for something to be misconstrued or to be sent out there to the general public on yelp on Facebook on instagram wherever.
00:36:44.340 –> 00:36:51.750
Paul Carelis: That could make you look really bad so you just want to kind of keep that in mind that whatever we’re producing in terms of policy or communications.
00:36:53.220 –> 00:37:06.360
Paul Carelis: If those was to be disseminated out to the general public via social media and the the the local news is is something that we’re going to be able to defend and feel confident about so.
00:37:06.900 –> 00:37:19.110
Paul Carelis: Whether we like it or not, HR human resources is also public relations, you know, in this day and age, so just keep that in mind, whether it be something covert related or anything else that you’re doing from an HR perspective.
00:37:21.570 –> 00:37:27.810
Paul Carelis: Also don’t be afraid to pivot again CDC guidance is changing, you know i’d say public sentiment is changing.
00:37:28.710 –> 00:37:36.210
Paul Carelis: At the same time, we are now seeing schools go without masks hopefully everything continues on the path that it’s on but.
00:37:36.840 –> 00:37:49.020
Paul Carelis: There is the chance that we could see another variant, we could see that the the lack of mask and schools creates an uptick in in covert cases so, whether it be loosening your restrictions are tightening them up.
00:37:50.190 –> 00:37:53.400
Paul Carelis: don’t be afraid to pivot based on what you feel is best for your business.
00:37:55.830 –> 00:38:00.000
Paul Carelis: I will say seek expert opinion before making any major changes.
00:38:02.430 –> 00:38:08.880
Paul Carelis: that’s just always a good idea we don’t want to act too irrationally and sudden when it comes to making changes the policy.
00:38:10.470 –> 00:38:19.710
Paul Carelis: And then finally just make sure you’re keeping up to date with any federal or local regulations when it comes to over 19 these things are changing by the day and by the hour sometimes so.
00:38:20.130 –> 00:38:25.620
Paul Carelis: Just make sure that you’re keeping up with compliance, especially if things start to get the momentum swings at all and.
00:38:26.280 –> 00:38:36.510
Paul Carelis: And things start to pick up and we do start to see more more restrictions you just want to make sure you’re following all the rules that you need to as an employer and as a provider of services to the public.
00:38:40.980 –> 00:38:43.860
Paul Carelis: Right let’s see what we got for questions got a couple in here.
00:38:47.970 –> 00:38:56.370
Paul Carelis: I receive questions regarding whether drivers should be required to be masked when driving clients should their clients be required to do so.
00:39:00.060 –> 00:39:00.900
Paul Carelis: yeah so.
00:39:02.550 –> 00:39:18.870
Paul Carelis: In most cases, and again sometimes city ordinance as well, will take over here, but as a rule there isn’t no at the statewide level there isn’t a requirement for for people to be be mapped and in a private business setting.
00:39:21.090 –> 00:39:29.670
Paul Carelis: If you wish to do so if you feel that’s that’s best, then you certainly can but yeah It is all a matter of of what your policy is going to be so.
00:39:30.960 –> 00:39:40.770
Paul Carelis: that’s up to you, you can have a across the board masking policy, you can have a masking if not vaccinated and can show proof of vaccination policy.
00:39:41.280 –> 00:39:55.080
Paul Carelis: Or you know masking if not vaccinated and or can’t show a negative test within 72 hours or 24 hours you really have a lot of options you just want to make sure you, you have a policy and you’re consistent with it.
00:39:57.120 –> 00:39:58.920
Paul Carelis: And another question here.
00:40:01.560 –> 00:40:05.250
Paul Carelis: Are we allowed to ask for vaccinations status.
00:40:07.230 –> 00:40:09.660
Paul Carelis: If not vaccinated agreeing to weekly testing.
00:40:16.140 –> 00:40:19.050
Paul Carelis: yep so again, even though.
00:40:20.910 –> 00:40:25.230
Paul Carelis: Even though there that federal mandate isn’t in place and was shot down.
00:40:26.430 –> 00:40:41.880
Paul Carelis: The way that the decision was worded by the Supreme Court, it did not prevent employers from having their own private vaccination policy and requiring weekly testing for those who weren’t vaccinated that all would would pass muster.
00:40:43.410 –> 00:40:46.440
Paul Carelis: He you know in this example here in the question.
00:40:48.330 –> 00:40:55.200
Paul Carelis: There was someone who had received one dose but not the second so yeah I mean work with the work with the employees, especially if they’re looking like they’re trying to comply.
00:40:56.850 –> 00:41:02.520
Paul Carelis: If you can throw a test in there in the middle, while they’re waiting for their second dose then all the better, but.
00:41:03.900 –> 00:41:12.060
Paul Carelis: yeah that that is completely acceptable to have a vaccine mandate policy at this time to require testing for employees who are not vaccinated.
00:41:13.680 –> 00:41:22.080
Paul Carelis: Especially if they’re going to be coming in contact with others i’d be a little hesitant on on folks who are working remotely and not coming into contact with anyone else.
00:41:22.980 –> 00:41:33.120
Paul Carelis: Even though the federal vaccine mandate when it was going to be in place did kind of exempt people who are working remotely unless they are going to be coming into the office or interacting with the public, so.
00:41:34.110 –> 00:41:38.790
Paul Carelis: If you do have someone who’s been working remotely and you do have a vaccine mandate, and please.
00:41:40.410 –> 00:41:51.750
Paul Carelis: it’s okay to exempt them from it, but if they’re going to be coming to the office are going to be doing something you know, on behalf of the company interacting with others, you can then ask for proof of vaccination or have them submit a test.
00:41:56.910 –> 00:42:01.740
Paul Carelis: So it looks like those are our two questions I did want quickly want to just reiterate.
00:42:03.240 –> 00:42:13.620
Paul Carelis: nila does have a specific website set up strictly for Members at MP dash hr.com slash nila where you can submit HR related questions that you have.
00:42:14.520 –> 00:42:30.990
Paul Carelis: and get a response from one of our HR professionals so whether it’s about Kobe Kobe 19 mandates vaccines restrictions or anything else that you’re encountering when it comes to the HR space and working with your employees or or potential employees.
00:42:32.040 –> 00:42:38.310
Paul Carelis: Please do submit a question there on the website that goes right to our HR team here at MP, be happy to respond.
00:42:39.360 –> 00:42:52.050
Paul Carelis: Also, we keep copies of our of our blog posts and recordings of our webinars that we’re doing there on that site, so please do take advantage of it it’s a great resource that nila provides to its Members.
00:42:53.490 –> 00:43:02.640
Paul Carelis: And I hope to hear from you all soon otherwise stay tuned we’ll be doing another one of these sessions next month, and we look forward to it, thank you very much, and have a great day.
The federal COVID vaccine mandates have been struck down, but many states and cities are implementing their own regulations. Join MP’s HR and compliance expert, Paul Carelis, to discuss what transportation companies should do next.
Register for the webinar to:
- Learn how to ensure compliance with local COVID safety regulations
- Find out what employers could do if they want to require employees to get vaccinated
- Outline strategies to reduce legal risk and exposure
- Discover best practices for implementing COVID safety policies and reducing pushback from employees
VP of HR Services, MP