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Workplace Compliance News & Resources

Get the latest safety and workplace compliance news and resources from the federal, state, and local government levels. Below you’ll find late-breaking news, an interactive state map, the latest federal news, and minimum wage changes.

We try to keep it easy to understand and give you some general considerations on what to do, but we always recommend that businesses seek legal counsel for further advice and guidance on your particular situation.

Wherever available, KPA products are updated with the latest government notices and posters for employers.

Breaking News

Latest Federal Workplace Compliance News

CDC Updates Face Mask Recommendations

Who: All consumers

When: Effective Immediately

What: On January 14, 2022, the CDC updated face mask recommendations for consumers on its website, focusing on fit, protection, and comfort. In a press release statement, the federal agency recommends that people should wear the most protective mask that they can, focusing on how well it fits and the consistency of wearing it.

The CDC Types of Masks and Respirator webpage states that some masks provide better protection than others–“loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection.” People may now choose to wear N95 and KN95 masks, but the CDC clarified that and “surgical N95” masks should be reserved for health care settings.

Next Steps:

Employers may want to review and update their face covering policies and supplies.

Additional Resources

Types of Masks and Respirators

Registration for Access to OFCCP Contractor Portal Begins February 2022

Who: Covered federal contractors and subcontractors

When: Effective immediately

What: Previously, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) did not have a way to monitor federal contractors’ compliance with the requirement that they have an affirmative action plan (AAP). To remedy that, it launched an online Contractor Portal on December 2, 2021. Contractors may begin registering for access to the portal on February 1, 2022. Beginning March 31, 2022, contractors must use the portal to certify their AAP compliance, which is due by June 30, 2022.

How:

  • Review your compliance practices with regard to AAP requirements.
  • Register for Contractor Portal access.
  • Monitor the OFCCP website for a user guide and how-to videos.

Additional Resources:

OFCCP Contractor Portal

Contractor Portal Rollout Timeline

Contractor Portal Frequently Asked Questions

January 30: Biden Administration Increases Federal Contractor Minimum Wage

Who: Federal contractors

When: Effective January 30, 2022

What: Per Executive Order 14026 and the Department of Labor’s final rule, “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors,” the minimum wage for federal contractors increased to $15.00 per hour effective January 30, 2022. President Joseph Biden signed the Executive Order 14026 on April 27, 2021, and the Department of Labor published the final rule on November 22, 2021. The minimum wage applies to workers performing work on or in connection with new, renewed, and extended covered federal contracts entered into or renewed on or after January 30, 2022.

The DOL final rule also provides for an annual increase in the minimum wage for federal contractors, the amount of which is to be determined by the Secretary of Labor. In addition, the final rule:

  • Eliminates the tipped minimum wage for federal contractors by 2024,
  • Ensures that federal contract workers with disabilities receive the increased minimum wage, and
  • Restores minimum wage to outfitters and guides operating on federal lands.

How:

  • Update your federal contracts, pay rates, HR manual, and employee handbook as needed to comply with the new minimum wage requirements.
  • Monitor the Department of Labor workplace poster website for the Workers Rights Under Executive Order 14026 Federal Minimum Wage for Contractors poster that communicates the new minimum wage.

Additional Resources:

Executive Order on Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors

Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors Final Rule

Fact Sheet #83B – Raising the Minimum Wage from Contractors Under Executive Order 14026

Frequently Asked Questions: Minimum Wage EO 14026: Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors

White House Launches Free COVID-19 Tests, Federal Government Requiring Group Health Plans Cover At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Who: Business sponsoring group health plans, consumers

When: Effective January 15, 2022

What: On January 19, the White House launched a website to order free COVID-19 tests. Each household is qualified to order up to four tests. The tests are expected to be delivered within seven to 10 days.

In addition to this new government website, the Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Treasury Department released a joint rule on January 10, 2022, stating that group health plans must pay for at-home over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Tests purchased on or after January 15, 2022, must be covered. Group Plans have the option to cover any tests purchased before January 15.

Group Health Plans must either arrange to provide the tests free of charge at the point of sale (through the plan’s regular pharmacy, retail network, or direct delivery system) or reimburse the cost after purchase. In the case of reimbursement, reasonable proof of purchase can include a UPC code or a receipt of purchase that includes the date and price. A doctor’s authorization isn’t necessary.

Plans must ensure that covered individuals can access the tests through an adequate number of means, whether in-person or through online outlets. Plans must communicate to covered individuals the dates the coverage program is available and a list of participating retailers or other locations.

There is a caveat in the rule that provides a $12 per test limit on the amount of reimbursement for out-of-network tests. The $12 limit doesn’t apply if the insurer isn’t able to provide free OTC tests through its plans and needs to provide the tests through other means. Reasons for needing to this could be because of significant delays for the test.

Each covered person may be reimbursed for up to eight OTC COVID-19 tests per month. If a health care provider has authorized additional tests, insurers can’t limit the number of reimbursed tests.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Respond

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid also issued an FAQ document regarding COVID-19 testing, recommending consumers to check with their plan or insurer if it will provide direct coverage or if they must submit for reimbursement.

Workplace Required Tests Not Covered

The new rule doesn’t apply to required workplace testing. In situations where employers are requiring employees to submit COVID-19 test results as part of an employment condition, group health plans are not required to cover the costs.

It is notable that group health plans or issuers could ask individuals to confirm in writing whether their purchase was for personal use or for employment purposes.

Next Steps:

  • Employers who sponsor a group health plan should coordinate with their insurance carriers and third-party administrators to understand how they’ll comply with the new mandate.
  • Communicate any changes and options to employees on how to access OTC COVID-19 tests under the group health plan.

Additional Resources

FAQs About Affordable Care Act Implementation Part 51, Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Implementation

CMS Frequently Asked Questions How to get your At-Home Over-The-Counter COVID-19 Test for Free

CMS How to get your At-Home Over-The-Counter COVID-19 Test for Free

FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces New Actions to Protect Americans and Help Communities and Hospitals Battle Omicron

IRS Proposes Extension of Filing Deadline for Forms 1095-B and 1095-C

Who: Employers who provide employer-sponsored healthcare plans; employers that offer self-insured health benefits

When: Forms due to employees by March 2, 2022

What: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a proposed rule that permanently extends the deadline for employers to file Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. The forms provide information about whether employer-sponsored health insurance plans meet Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements for minimum coverage.

Employers can rely on the 30-day extension before the proposed rule takes effect, meaning the deadline for providing the forms to employees is March 2, 2022. That deadline will be the same each year, unless the date falls on a weekend or holiday, in which case the due date will be the next business day.

The due dates for submitting the forms to the IRS have not changed. Paper forms are due by February 28, 2022, and electronic forms are due March 31, 2022.

In an effort to ease the administrative burden of the reporting requirement, the proposed regulations would allow employers to avoid sending the forms directly to certain individuals. Instead, they may prominently post a notice on their website that announces the availability of Forms 1095-B or 1095-C to:

  • Health plan participants employed by health insurance issuers or governmental agencies,
  • Part-time employees of self-insured employers, and
  • Non-employees (e.g., former employees) of self-insured employers.

Those employees are exempted from the direct reporting requirements because their individual shared responsibility payment is currently $0, and they do not need the forms for tax reporting.

Employers should note that state reporting deadlines may differ from the IRS deadlines.

How:

  • Update your policies and procedures to account for the new reporting deadline and website notification, as applicable.

Additional Resources:

IRS Proposed Rules

Form 1095-B

Form 1095-C

2021 Instructions for Forms 1094-B and 1095-B

2021 Instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C

OSHA Increases Penalties for 2022

Who: All employers

When: Effective immediately

What: The Department of Labor published updated maximum civil penalties for employer violations of workplace safety and health laws. The penalties apply to all citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) starting January 15, 2022. The penalties automatically increase in January of each year, per the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

The maximum penalty for a serious, other-than-serious, or posting requirements violation is now $14,502. The maximum penalty for a willful or repeated violation is set at 10 times that amount, or $145,027. The maximum penalty for a failure-to-abate violation is now $14,502 per day past the abatement date.

Maximum civil penalties may be higher in states regulated by an agency other than OSHA (such as Cal/OSHA in California).

How:

  • Review and update your internal documentation if needed to note the new penalty amounts.

Additional Resources:

Department of Labor Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Annual Adjustments for 2022

OSHA Penalties 2022

Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties Memo

2022 Minimum Wage Updates

KPA tracks state and local minimum wage changes for our Vera HR customers, providing them with updated labor posters and more.

Check out the latest minimum wage changes for 2022, typically updated in December and June to ensure you know about the majority of increases before taking effect on January 1 and July 1.

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Better Workforce Training

Keys to An Effective Training Program

Regulatory changes often require you to communicate and educate your employees.

If you’re struggling to get your employees to take training courses, this eBook might help. Each of the four chapters is focused on a training best practice, followed by a checklist you can use to assess your current program.

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