As you may be aware, OSHA issued the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that requires employers with over 100 employees to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees. Below is a brief summary of the Standard provided by the National Retail Federation.

Over the weekend, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a Stay (temporary stop) on enforcement of the ETS until it could be further reviewed by the court. This review could happen very quickly, so it is important for employers with more than 100 employees to review the ETS, and be prepared to implement all requirements if the Stay is lifted. 

We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
 


EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARD (ETS) SUMMARY: 

By December 5, employers must:

Assess their workforce to determine who is and who is not vaccinated. Must categorize into:

  • Vaccinated. Employers cannot take employees’ self-attestation. Employers must see their vaccination cards and we must threaten them with criminal penalties for filing fraudulent information.
  • Unvaccinated and willing to get the shot. These workers must then start the process of vaccination to avoid weekly testing. Workers need to have received BOTH SHOTS by January 4, 2022. Thus, they must start the Pfizer regiment by December 14 or the Moderna regiment by December 7. Employers must offer up to four hours of paid time off, including travel time, at the employee’s regular rate of pay per dose for employees to get vaccinated. Employers may not require employees to draw down vacation time for this purpose. Employers must provide paid sick leave for a “reasonable time” to employees to recover from side effects but can insist this leave come from accrued time off.
  • Those for whom a vaccine is medically contraindicated.
  • Those for whom medical necessity requires a delay in vaccination.
  • Those legally entitled to a reasonable accommodation under federal civil rights laws because they have a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances that conflict with the vaccination requirement.
  • Refusers

Impose a mask mandate for unvaccinated employees. Mask must always cover the nose and mouth while working indoors. Masking required when occupying a vehicle with another person for work. when an employee is alone in a room with closed door. No masking required while the employee is eating or drinking. No masking required if it “creates a greater hazard.”

Employers must inform each employee about:

  • The requirements of the ETS
  • Any employer policies and procedures established pursuant to the ETS.
  • The efficacy, safety, and the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine, specifically a copy of this document: “https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www4.retailmerchants.com/e/234172/iA7TKteGXC2FpI7t43D-reserved-0/2ns76t/430211076?h%3D8ZZOQbyF8m_Bh-MV_xM1y2TnVTeFc4Gkwy37kJWcuAU&source=gmail&ust=1636743499109000&usg=AOvVaw127HAa3NoxUmu-y4C1GBlV" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener">Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines”
  • The fact that employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness and from discriminating against an employee for exercising rights under the ETS or the OSH Act.
  • The existence of criminal penalties for knowingly supplying false statements or documentation.

By January 4, employers must:

  • Implement a vaccine mandate and ensure that all workers are vaccinated.

- OR -

  • Allow unvaccinated workers into the workplace if and only if they produce a negative test weekly and don masks. Employers choosing this option must create a weekly testing regime for unvaccinated employees. Any employee who receives a positive COVID-19 test or is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider must be removed from the workplace. Employers may pass on the costs of the weekly testing to unvaccinated employees provided they do not have a disability-based or religious-based exemption. As for kinds of test, simple home rapid antigen test kits are acceptable, but the test cannot be both self-administered and self-read by the employee. The test must be done in “the presence of the employer or a healthcare or telehealth test proctor.”

The ETS does NOT apply to:

  • Workplaces covered by OSHA’s earlier healthcare ETS
  • Workplaces that are covered by the federal contractor vaccine
  • Employees who do not report to a workplace where other individuals (e.g., coworkers or customers) are present
  • Employee working from home
  • Employees who work exclusively outdoors

Additional Details:

 

 

 

The power of both the Executive Branch and all 100 Seats for the House of Delegates were up for grabs in yesterday’s election in Virginia. After a very late night, the numbers indicate that Republicans swept the top of the ticket, which hasn’t been done since 2009, and that the House has flipped to a razor-thin republican lead.

Going into the evening, Democrats held a 55 to 45 majority in the House of Delegates. Based on last night’s election Republicans picked up 7 seats, flipping the House to a 52-48 Republican-held Majority.

You can find a breakdown of both the statewide races as well as the House of Delegates races by clicking here.

It is important to note that these are the results as of the time of distribution. There are a few races that are extremely tight which may be subject to a recount. We will keep you informed as this unfolds.

CLICK TO VIEW BREAKDOWN OF RACES 

 

Know Where Candidates Stand Before Voting

Next Tuesday, November 2, is election day. Virginians will have the opportunity to vote for the Commonwealth's next Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, House of Delegates representatives, as well as some local offices which vary by locality - so make sure you remember to get out and vote! 

It is our hope that you will take some time prior to voting to familiarize yourself with the linked legislative scorecard below. 

The Virginia Retail Federation's Legislative Scorecard is intended to provide members with a method to educate themselves on legislative issues important to the Retail Industry, and to provide an opportunity to review the outcome of significant business legislation and how legislators voted on certain pieces of legislation.

Password required. If you are a member, you have been sent an email from "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." with the password to access this scorecard. 

Access Scorecard

 

Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

 

 

 

Last week the Virginia Health and Safety Codes Board voted to adopt changes to the COVID-19 Permanent Standard.

Virginia Retail Federation, along with the Virginia Business Coalition, strongly advocated that the board repeal the Permanent Standard and remove the static regulatory burden in Virginia; and secondly, if the board chose to keep the standard in place, to adopt Governor Northam’s recommendation to provide employers with safeguards should they comply with the most recent CDC guidance. The board voted by a vote of 10-4 to adopt our second recommendation.

Specifically, they amended Section 16Vac25-220-10.E to say:

To the extent that an employer actually complies with a recommendation contained in CDC guidelines, whether mandatory or nonmandatory, to mitigate SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 disease related hazards or job tasks addressed by this standard, the employer's actions shall be considered in compliance with the related provisions of this standard. An employer's actual compliance with a recommendation contained in CDC guidelines, whether mandatory or non-mandatory, to mitigate SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 related hazards or job tasks addressed by a provision of this standard shall be considered evidence of good faith in any enforcement proceeding related to this standard. The Commissioner of Labor and Industry shall consult with the State Health Commissioner for advice and technical aid before making a determination related to compliance with CDC guidelines.

The Board also approved, by a vote of 11-3, the Department of Labor and Industry’s recommendation to allow businesses over 11 employees, who must prepare a “Infectious disease preparedness and response plan,” to exclude counting employees who are vaccinated when determining their employee count. 

These changes are now before the Governor for review, and after that step, they will be sent to the Richmond Times-Dispatch for publication. Publication in the RTD is considered public notice, and therefore officially activates changes adopted by the Board.

Although we do not have a specific date of when this will occur, we anticipate that the changes will be effective by mid to late September. VRF will keep members informed as to when the changes officially go into effect.

You may view the meeting where the board reviewed all proposed and adopted changes to the standard by clicking here.

From the National Retail Federation:
 




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The SBA has recently made some important changes to two of its key lending programs that have been critically important to small retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SBA recently announced the launch of a streamlined application portal that will allow PPP borrowers with loans of $150,000 or less to apply for loan forgiveness directly through the SBA. The SBA estimates that the streamlined portal will provide immediate loan relief to over 6.5 million small businesses. The platform will begin accepting applications on August 4, 2021. Lenders are required to opt-in to this program. The Direct Forgiveness Portal may be accessed here.

Additionally, the SBA is in the process of approving changes to the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.  This program provides economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Unlike the PPP, the EIDL loan cannot be forgiven. However, the loan terms are advantageous for eligible organizations, with a fixed interest rate for 30 years and no pre-payment penalty or fees. The SBA will be expanding the EIDL loan cap from $500,000 to $2 million. Loans approved prior to April 7, 2021, for less than $500,000 are likely to be eligible to apply for additional funds.