Weekly Legislative Update July 5, 2021

OSHA Issues COVID-19 Workplace Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released an emergency temporary standard (ETS) that healthcare employers must follow. At the same time, OSHA concurrently issued updated, non-mandatory guidance for non-healthcare employers.

The ETS was published in the Federal Register on June 21, 2021. Employers must comply with most provisions by July 6, 2021, and with provisions involving physical barriers, ventilation, and training by July 21, 2021.

What Employers Are Covered by the New ETS?

The new ETS applies to all settings where any employee provides healthcare services (services provided by professional healthcare practitioners such as doctors, nurses, and EMTs, but excluding first aid) or healthcare support services (services that facilitate the provision of healthcare services), including most hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

What Requirements Does the New ETS Impose?

Employers covered by the new ETS must:

-Develop and implement a COVID-19 plan for each workplace. Employers must conduct a hazard assessment relating to COVID-19 and have a plan that addresses the hazards identified. Employers should designate one or more workplace safety coordinator(s) to develop this COVID-19 plan and monitor its effectiveness. If the employer has more than 10 employees, the plan must be written.

-Provide appropriate PPE, social distancing, and physical barriers. Employees must generally wear a facemask or respirator. Employers must also implement procedures for social distancing and install physical cleanable or disposable solid barriers in certain work areas.

-Provide paid leave for employee vaccination. Employers must also provide paid leave if employees experience side effects from vaccination.

-Screen employees. Employers must screen each employee before each shift and require each employee to promptly notify it if the employee is COVID-19 positive, is suspected to have COVID-19, or is experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19.

-Pay employees who are removed from the workplace. When an employer removes an employee for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, it must continue to pay employees. The ETS requires the continuation of benefits and regular pay, up to $1,400 per week and, for employers with fewer than 500 employees, a reduced amount of up to $200 per day starting in the third week of paid leave. Employers may set off these obligations through compensation employees receive through other sources such as state or local paid COVID-19 leave or employer-provided paid sick leave.

-Screen and manage visitors and patients. If employees provide direct patient care, the ETS requires patient screening and management, including limiting and monitoring points of entry to the workplace and screening all clients, patients, residents, delivery people, visitors, and other non-employees.

-Notify employees of COVID-19 cases. Employers must notify employees within 24 hours if a person who has been in the workplace (including employees, clients, patients, customers, visitors, and other non-employees) is COVID-19 positive.

The ETS also requires employers to establish a COVID-19 log of all employee instances of COVID-19 (whether occupational or otherwise), and report all COVID-19 fatalities and hospitalizations to OSHA.

What Guidance Exists for Non-Healthcare Industry Employers?

In addition to the ETS, which applies only in the healthcare industry, OSHA has also issued updated guidance to assist employers in other industries. OSHA permits employers to follow CDC guidance as it applies to vaccinated individuals; this explicitly includes allowing vaccinated workers to resume work without masks or physical distancing, if otherwise permitted by state and local law.

TIA Signs onto 199A Support Letter

Chairman and Ranking Members:

The undersigned trade associations represent millions of individually- and family-owned businesses operating in every sector of the American economy. We write to voice our strong opposition to any reductions or repeal of the 20-percent deduction for qualified business income under Section 199A, including phasing out the deduction above certain income thresholds.

Section 199A is an essential part of the Tax Code. Without it, individually- and family-owned Main Street businesses would pay significantly higher taxes, putting them at a competitive disadvantage and accelerating the economic consolidation taking place in our economy.

Individually- and family-owned businesses organized as pass-throughs are the backbone of the economy. They employ the majority of private-sector workers and comprise 95 percent of all businesses. Nearly 40 percent of these businesses closed their doors during the COVID pandemic, putting their owners and employees at risk. Section 199A provides critical tax relief to these businesses, enabling them to keep more of what they earn to reinvest in their employees and the communities they serve.

To ensure this focus on job creation and investment, Section 199A limits the deduction for larger pass-through businesses to those that have significant employment and investment levels. If a large pass-through business doesn’t create jobs and invest in its community, it doesn’t get the deduction. Section 199A’s laser focus on real businesses with real employees helped motivate the introduction of bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1381 and S. 480) to make the deduction permanent.

Proposals to limit or repeal the deduction would hurt Main Street businesses and result in fewer jobs, lower wages, and less economic growth in thousands of communities across the country. Such changes would amount to a direct tax hike on America’s Main Street employers, a key reason why the tax plan released by the White House in March left the deduction fully intact.

For these reasons, we support the Biden administration’s decision to leave the Section 199A deduction intact and we strongly oppose any attempt to cap or repeal it by Congress.

Sincerely,

TIA and other trade associations