August 2021 Federal HR Updates

FFCRA Leave Credits Apply for COVID-19 Immunization and Care of Others

 Update Applicable to:
All employers in the United States. 

What happened?
On July 30, 2021, the IRS updated its frequently asked questions (FAQ) for employer tax credits in regard to COVID-19 leave. 

What are the details?
The IRS updated their employer tax FAQ for providing employee leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), as amended and extended by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

The update details that the FFCRA/ARPA paid sick and family leave credits reimburse eligible employers for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave for reasons related to COVID-19. The revised FAQ make clear this includes leave taken by employees to:

  • Accompany an individual to obtain immunization related to COVID-19, and
  • Care for an individual who is recovering from any injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the immunization.  

Specifically, “individual” here means an immediate family member, someone who regularly resides in the employee’s home, or a similar person with whom the employee has a relationship that creates an expectation that the employee would care for the person. 

The FAQ section is here. 

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the updated FAQ to be aware of the employer tax credits that are available for them to claim for reimbursement.   

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U.S. District Court Rules on Foreign Worker Final Rule 

Update Applicable to:
All employers in the United States. 

What happened?
On June 23, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order on the Final Rule (86 FR 3608), Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States. 

What are the details?
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated the Final Rule (FR), which was an amendment to the U.S. Department of Labor’s regulations governing the prevailing wages for employment opportunities that U.S. employers seek to fill with foreign workers on a permanent or temporary basis under the PERM, H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 visa programs. The matter has been sent back to the U.S. Department of Labor, who has delayed the FR (86 FR 26164). 

With the FR being sent back to the U.S. Department of Labor and the delays to the FR, the regulations in effect prior to the Interim Final Rule (IFR) and FR are still in place from October 7, 2021.   

Information on the Rule is here

The delay on the Rule is here

An article on the Rule is here. 

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review their policies and processes for workers under the PERM, H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 visa programs and make any applicable updates to stay in compliance with the regulations that were in effect prior to the IFR and FR.

July 2021: Planning Ahead and Updated Posting Requirements

Plan Ahead

(This section provides you with an overview of current and upcoming laws that take effect)

Law / RegulationEffective Date
Chicago, Illinois, Amended Worker Protections Take EffectAugust 1, 2021
New Jersey Cannabis Criminal Background Protections Take EffectAugust 1, 2021
North Dakota Excludes Injuries Linked to Recreational Marijuana from Workers’ CompensationAugust 1, 2021
North Dakota Allows Unemployment Benefits for Military SpousesAugust 1, 2021
Connecticut Minimum Wage Increases to $13.00August 1, 2021
Louisiana Broadens Pregnancy Accommodation RequirementsAugust 1, 2021
Louisiana Limits Use of Criminal History in Pre-employment ScreeningAugust 1, 2021
EEO-1 Filing Deadline ExtendedAugust 23, 2021
Nebraska Amends Service Animals LawAugust 28, 2021
Chicago, Illinois, Amended Worker Protections Take EffectAugust 1, 2021
New Jersey Cannabis Criminal Background Protections Take EffectAugust 1, 2021
North Dakota Excludes Injuries Linked to Recreational Marijuana from Workers’ CompensationAugust 1, 2021
North Dakota Allows Unemployment Benefits for Military SpousesAugust 1, 2021
Connecticut Minimum Wage Increases to $13.00August 1, 2021
Louisiana Broadens Pregnancy Accommodation RequirementsAugust 1, 2021
Louisiana Limits Use of Criminal History in Pre-employment ScreeningAugust 1, 2021
EEO-1 Filing Deadline ExtendedAugust 23, 2021
Nebraska Amends Service Animals LawAugust 28, 2021
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Posting Updates

Federal or StateUpdated PostingMandatory or Recommended
TBD 
FederalFair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Overtime Exemptions, Overtime, Joint Employment.ANTICIPATED
FederalMinimum WageANTICIPATED
FederalFamily Medical Leave ActANTICIPATED
ANTICIPATED
IllinoisYou Have the Right to be Free from Job Discrimination and Sexual HarassmentANTICIPATED
New JerseyWage TheftANTICIPATED
New JerseySafe ActANTICIPATED
New YorkDiscriminationANTICIPATED
VirginiaMinimum WageANTICIPATED
New YorkFair EmploymentANTICIPATED
ColoradoHealthy Families and Workplaces LawANTICIPATED
New YorkMinimum WageANTICIPATED
July 2021
California, San FranciscoCOVID-Related Employment ProtectionsMANDATORY
California, San FranciscoHealth Care Security OrdinanceMANDATORY
California, San FranciscoMinimum WageMANDATORY
California, Los AngelesMinimum WageMANDATORY
California, Santa MonicaMinimum WageMANDATORY
OhioFair EmploymentMANDATORY
Illinois, ChicagoLabor StandardsMANDATORY
MichiganUnemployment CompensationMANDATORY
MichiganMIOSHARECOMMENDED
IndianaTeen Hour Work RestrictionsMANDATORY
Maryland, MontgomeryMinimum Wage & Overtime LawMANDATORY
California, FremontMinimum WageMANDATORY
California, BerkeleyMinimum WageMANDATORY

July 2021 Federal HR Updates

Acceptable I-9 Documentation Updated for Refugees and Asylees

Update Applicable to:
All employers

What happened?
On July 13, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated the Refugees and Asylees section Handbook for Employers.

What are the details?
Section 6.3 of the Handbook for Employers (M-274) has been updated with additional information reminding employers that refugees and asylees can present any acceptable documents in their possession.
Refugees and asylees are employment-eligible due to their status and are authorized to work indefinitely because their immigration status does not expire. They may present any List A document or combination of List B and List C documents from the Form I-9 Lists of Acceptable Documents to demonstrate identity and employment authorization. Employees may also present an acceptable receipt instead of the List A, B, or C document.

The full updated information can be read in full here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the updated information to stay in compliance with new hire processing of refugee’s and asylee’s documents.

July 2021: UCIS Launches H-2B Employer Data Hub

Update Applicable to:
All employers in the United States.

What happened?
On June 23, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) launched the H-2B Employer Data Hub.

What are the details?
The UCIS has launched the H-2B Employer Data Hub which provides information on employers or agents who are petitioning H-2B workers publicly. This information can assist others to calculate approval and denial rates based on other employers using the H-2B program and create additional transparency with the program.

The fiscal data is available back to the fiscal year 2015 and will include information on employer (petitioner) name, city, state, ZIP code, worksite state, cap type, North American Industry Classification System code, and Standard Occupational Classification code.

The site can be located here.

What do employers need to do?
This is a notice of a new informational source, employers do not need to make any changes.

June 2021 Federal HR Updates

June 19 Added as Federal Holiday

Update Applicable to:
All federal employers, and possibly those who work as federal contractors.

What happened?
On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, designating Juneteenth as the 11th federally recognized public holiday.

What are the details?
June 19 has become the newest recognized federal holiday with the passing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. This grants all federal employees a paid holiday, while federal contractors and private employers may choose whether or not to offer this paid holiday.

What do employers need to do?
Federal contractors and other private employers should choose if they are going to offer this paid holiday. If they have decided to offer it as a holiday, they should let their employees know and update their policies related to paid holidays.

July 2021: Minimum Wage Rate Increases

Effective July 1, 2021, minimum wage rate increases will go into effect for a number of states, cities, and municipalities. These increases will be applicable to employers who have employees performing work in the affected areas.


To assist our clients, we have compiled a comprehensive resource containing wage increase details. All minimum wage rate increases are listed here.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your Strategic Relations Representative.

*Note: Rates may differ in certain areas depending on employee count

May 2021 Federal HR Updates

Biometric Requirements Suspended on Certain Visa Applications

Update Applicable to:
All employers utilizing the following visas:

  • H-4
  • L-2
  • E-1
  • E-2
  • E-3

What happened?
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will allow adjudications for the visa categories listed above to proceed based on biographic information and related background checks, without capturing fingerprints and a photograph. This suspension will apply through May 17, 2023, subject to affirmative extension or revocation of the suspension period by the USCIS director.

What are the details?
This temporary suspension will apply to applicants filing Form I-539 requesting the following:

  • Extension of stay in or change of status to H-4 nonimmigrant status;
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to L-2 nonimmigrant status;
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to E-1 nonimmigrant status;
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to E-2 nonimmigrant status (including E-2C (E-2 CNMI Investor)); or
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to E-3 nonimmigrant status (including those selecting E-3D).

This suspension will apply only to the above categories of Form I-539 applications that are either:

  • Pending as of May 17, 2021, and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice; or
  • New applications are postmarked or submitted electronically on or after May 17, 2021.

However, The USCIS retains discretion on a case-by-case basis to require biometrics for applicants who meet the criteria above, and any applicant may be scheduled for an application support center (ASC) appointment to submit biometrics.

Form I-539 applicants who have already received a biometric services appointment notice should still attend their scheduled appointment.

The official announcement may be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers will likely not need to take any action but may wish to inform their employees who are impacted by this visa change.

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OSHA Changes Position on Recordability of Adverse Vaccine Reaction

Update Applicable to:
All employers.

What happened?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a new FAQ in which they have backtracked on their previous stances regarding the recordability of adverse reactions in employees who have had the COVID-19 vaccine administered.

What are the details?
Previously, OSHA had stated that employers should record adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine, if they required employees to have them to work, as work-related injuries. However, in their most recent FAQ, OSHA has instead taken the stance that employers should not record any instance of adverse reactions as work-related injuries, even if the vaccine was required by the employer. 

The FAQ can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers may choose to no longer record adverse vaccine reactions in their OSHA recordkeeping log, in accordance to OSHA guidance. 

May 2021: CDC Issues Updated Guidance for Fully-Vaccinated Individuals

What happened?
On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated their COVID-19-related guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.

What are the details?
The CDC has updated their guidance stating that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Additionally, the guidance states that fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility, or a homeless shelter.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should recognize that the CDC’s guidance is advisory only. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Health Departments, and other local governments are the entities that create laws that determine what actions employers should take. Some states operate their own OSHA State Plans and employers in these states will need to remember that their state’s OSHA will determine the actions they should take, not the national OSHA. To see a map of the states with their own state plans, click here. Employers should continue to monitor their local governmental agencies for updates to workplace standards, ordinances, executive orders, and more.

May 2021: CDC Updates Outdoor Mask Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People

Update Applicable to:
All employers.

What happened?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

What are the details?
This update loosens the CDC’s mask-wearing recommendations for those fully vaccinated, allowing many outdoor activities without a mask.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose vaccine series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The new guidance says that people fully vaccinated can gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues. Fully vaccinated people can participate in the following activities without a mask:

  • Walking, running, or biking outdoors with members of the same household
  • Attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends
  • Attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • Dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households

For those fully vaccinated, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask in indoor settings.

According to the agency, it is also safe for unvaccinated people to walk, run, or bike outdoors with members of their household or attend a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends without wearing a mask. However, the CDC recommends that unvaccinated people continue to wear a mask when around unvaccinated people, including at both indoor and outdoor gatherings.

The CDC guidance can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
No action is required of employers.

May 2021: $29 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund Accepting Applications Beginning May 3, 2021

Update Applicable to:
Establishments eligible to apply for the grant program include restaurants (including franchises), bars, food trucks, breweries, bakeries, and caterers, among others. Ineligible establishments include those that are permanently closed, publicly traded companies, and businesses that own over 20 locations.

What happened?
Beginning May 3, 2021, restaurants may begin submitting applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a grant program geared toward combating the economic impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry.

What are the details?
The grant program—the Restaurant Revitalization Fund—was allocated $29 billion from the $1.9 trillion economic relief bill passed earlier this year.

Through the fund, eligible restaurants can receive up to $10 million per business or up to $5 million for a single physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible expenses no later than March 11, 2023.

Funds may be used for specific expenses, including:

  • Business payroll costs (including sick leave)
  • Payments on any business mortgage obligation
  • Business rent payments (this does not include prepayment of rent)
  • Business debt service, both principal and interest (this does not include any prepayment of principal or interest)
  • Business utility payments
  • Business maintenance expenses
  • Construction of outdoor seating
  • Business supplies, including protective equipment and cleaning materials
  • Business food and beverage expenses, including raw materials
  • Covered supplier costs
  • Business operating expenses

Employers can read more about this on the SBA’s website, here.

What do employers need to do?
The program is optional, employers who qualify may read how to apply on the SBA’s website at the link above.