As a fourth wave of COVID spreads across the country, the Biden administration is working to refine existing COVID legislation, while also passing new measures designed to protect people. The most recent HR legislative updates involve:
- Protecting COVID long haulers
- Reexamining overtime exemption requirements
- Rescinding Trump era employment policies
Take a deeper dive into these latest HR legislative developments and discover how they may affect employers, employees, and HR.
Long COVID may be considered a disability under ADA
Even a year and half into the pandemic, there is still so much we don’t know about the COVID-19 virus, especially the long-term effects. Many who have seemingly recovered from the virus still face lingering issues, such as:
- Breathing difficulty
- Brain fog
- Chronic pain
President Biden announced that the so-called “long COVID” may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The president revealed that his administration is working with various agencies to ensure workers with lasting COVID symptoms “have access to the rights and resources” provided by the ADA.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released guidance stating that long COVID is considered a disability under Titles II and III of the ADA “if it substantially limits one or more major life activities.” People whose COVID-related conditions qualify as disabilities are entitled to the same protections as anyone else with a disability.
DOL confirms overtime exemption review is coming
The U.S. Department of Labor confirmed that it is reviewing the exemption of executive, administrative, and professional employees from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The review will come as part of its Semi-Annual Regulatory Agenda.
The threshold was last revised in 2019 ($35,568), which was a long overdue update since the previous one in 2004 ($23,660). Despite that, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said the existing threshold is still too low. Walsh also revealed that the department will include in its review whether regular and automatic updates to the overtime threshold are needed.
DOL rescinds joint employment and independent contractor rules
On July 30, the U.S. Department of Labor finalized the repeal of two Trump era regulations concerning joint employment and independent contractors. The rescission will fully go into effect at the end of September.
- The first regulation made it more difficult to hold companies liable as “joint employers” of contractors and franchise workers under federal wage law.
- The second intended to implement a broad test for independent contractor status.
Both regulations were originally viewed as employer-friendl. Now, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division declared that these rules are inconsistent with the Fair Labor Standards Act and were rescinded in an effort to protect workers’ rights.
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