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Daily Briefing – 156

Post: Sep. 24, 2020

FDA Approves Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences’ COVID-19 Saliva Swab Test

Governor Cuomo and State University of New York Chancellor  Malatras yesterday announced that the individual saliva swab diagnostic test for COVID-19 developed by SUNY Upstate Medical University and Quadrant Biosciences has been granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While this test has been used to date to support SUNY’s widespread testing of students across campuses, the emergency use authorization will help additional labs begin to use this test, helping pinpoint and contain the virus and protect New Yorkers.

The saliva test for individuals complements Upstate Medical’s and Quadrant’s innovative pool testing, which allows for about 10 to 25 people to be screened in one COVID-19 test. The test’s approval by the FDA means it can be brought to scale across New York State as well as used nationwide.

The Governor also reported that positive tests results remain below one percent.

Weekly Jobless Claims Rise 

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 19 came in at 870,000, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected first-time claims at 850,000, down slightly from the previous week’s 860,000.

Without the adjustment, about 825,000 people filed last week, up from the previous week’s 796,000. More than 6 million people a week filed during the peak of the layoffs in the spring, when Congress approved $600 a week in supplemental benefits. The supplemental benefits expired this summer.

“Bottom line, we have a mix of people going back to work because they are now greater incentivized to do so without the extra $600 per week and those that are still challenged in finding a job that matches their skills in this unfortunate pandemic landscape,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.

Read more at CNBC

UK Unveils Job Support Scheme  – Focus on “Viable” Jobs

British finance minister Rishi Sunak announced a new jobs support scheme on Thursday that would help firms employ people on shorter hours, but warned he could not save every business or job.

“The government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours, rather than making them redundant,” Sunak told parliament. Sunak said the scheme would run for six months, starting in November and be open to all small and medium sized enterprises. “It will support viable jobs to make sure that employees must work at least a third of their normal hours and be paid for that work as normal by their employer,” he added.

Read more at Reuters

Workplace Safety, Hazard Prevention, and Premium Pay During COVID-19 Pandemic

Jackson Lewis Attorneys write that Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace safety and hazard prevention are more important than ever for manufacturers and other employers of essential employees. Besides the benefits of keeping their workers safe, manufacturers that maintain safe workplaces generally benefit from strong grounds for resisting demands for premium or “hazard” pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more at Jackson Lewis

NAM: 60 Covid Policy Wins for Manufacturers

When the history of COVID-19 is written, it will probably confirm that this was the greatest mobilization of manufacturing power since World War II. From food to ventilators to the vaccines themselves, manufacturers are making the products that keep Americans safe, comfortable and hopeful. And they’ve done it all while contending with an economic crash, a raft of new regulations and new safety procedures that had to be implemented at top speed.

These extraordinary demands on manufacturers call for an unprecedented degree of policy support, and the NAM is making sure they get it.  NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse talks about the NAM’s work over the past six months.

Here are the wins

How to Prevent New Hires from Backing Out of Onsite Work During a Pandemic

You have open positions you need to fill. For this particular position, you require the person to work onsite. You go through the applicant screening process, choose a finalist, and make an offer. The candidate accepts your offer, then declares he or she isn’t ready to come into the workplace.

There are steps you can take that will likely significantly reduce the number of applicants who aren’t willing or able to meet the demands of the position. This saves you both the time and hassle of going through the screening process.

Learn more at EHS Today

COVID-19 Delays Employment Authorization Documents

Issuance of certain Employment Authorization Documents (Form I-766, EADs) may be delayed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. To complete Form I-9, new employees who are waiting for their EAD and current employees who require reverification may present certain Forms I-797, Notice of Action, as a List C #7 document issued by the Department of Homeland Security that establishes employment eligibility, even though the notice states it is not evidence of employment authorization. 

For the notice to be acceptable, it must include a Notice Date from Dec. 1, 2019, through and including Aug. 20, 2020, and indicate that USCIS has approved the employee’s Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Both new and current employees may present this notice to complete Form I-9 until Dec. 1, 2020. New employees will also need to present an acceptable List B identity document.

Read more at e-verify

EEOC Supplements Its Guidance on the Application of Disability Discrimination Laws to COVID-19 Issues

Bond Scheneck & King attorneys write that The COVID-19 pandemic has placed employers in a difficult position when it comes to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. New protocols for maintaining workplace safety necessitate inquiries about employees’ health that present privacy pitfalls.  On September 8, 2020, the EEOC supplemented its existing FAQs to provide additional guidance on some of these issues. The full guidance, including the recent additions, is available here.

The most notable points from the September 8 additional guidance are summarized in this article.

Read the article at BSK