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    Employment Law Alert – State Safety Board To Consider Whether To Continue COVID Work Rules

    By Robert J. Barry, Labor & Employment

    On January 15, 2022, his first day in office, Governor Glenn Youngkin promulgated Executive Order 6 which directs the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board (the Board) “to convene an emergency meeting of their (sic) membership to discuss whether there is a continued need for the Permanent Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19.” That meeting has just been scheduled for February 7, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.
     
    First as an Emergency Temporary Standard under Governor Ralph Northam, and then as Final Permanent Standard (FPS) 16 VAC 25-220-10 et seq., the FPS has placed extensive requirements on Virginia employers including drafting and implementation of policies, mandatory reporting, and contact tracing, social distancing, and daily employee health screening, among others. Perhaps the most controversial requirement of the FPS is that during periods of substantial or high community transmission all employees working indoors, except those working alone in private offices, must wear a properly fitting face covering.
     
    The FPS is extensive and imposes certain requirements on all employers and even more upon others in higher-risk industries. Many employers have found the FPS difficult to understand and apply. Violations are enforceable through Citations issued by Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH), a Division of the State’s Department of Labor and Industry. Citations issued by VOSH may include monetary penalties and deadlines for mandatory abatement.
     
    We expect that all of the above requirements will be examined by the Board at the upcoming meeting.  Public participation is invited for the February 7 meeting in Richmond. Virtual viewing is offered, and access instructions are available here. A Report from the Board to Governor Youngkin will follow within 30 days of the meeting and is expected to recommend changes and possibly rescind the FPS.
     
    For Further Assistance:
     
    Our Labor and Employment Law Section has been working with our clients daily on COVID-19 issues, including compliance with law and regulation and strategies for mitigation, since March 2020. We have developed model policies, forms, and procedures that can be adapted for the needs of our individual clients. Please feel free to contact us for prompt assistance at any time.

    The contents of this publication are intended for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts and circumstances. Copyright 2022.