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Preparing for the New BA.2 Covid Variant

It appears that the BA.2 COVID variant is very contagious and is about to cause another COVID surge.  Here is a brief update for employers as you prepare to address still another pandemic surge.

  1. If an employee is symptomatic and tests positive for COVID, the employee should self-isolate for five (5) days after being fever-free without medication if other symptoms are also improving.
  1. If the employee tests positive for COVID with no symptoms, the employee should self-isolate for five (5) days. If the employee develops symptoms, restart and follow paragraph 1 above.
  1. Disinfect the areas where the employee was present.
  1. Inform exposed employees so they can get tested and monitor for symptoms.
  1. High-risk employees (65 or over or with certain medical conditions), may seek accommodations. Consider vaccinations, unpaid leave, plexiglass barriers, relocating the employee, or remote work, that enable the employee to perform essential job functions.
  1. Employers may require employees and visitors to wear masks. Employees may ask for an exception under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but they must show a specific medical condition and provide medical documentation.  Look for accommodations, such as a scarf or face shields.  Employers are not required to grant the accommodation because COVID has been characterized as a “direct threat.”
  1. Employers can require their employees to be vaccinated, provided the policy has exceptions for medical conditions and sincerely held religious beliefs. Some employers have encountered employee resistance that may make such a policy impractical.
  1. Employers may offer employees incentives for vaccinations or boosters, such as lower payroll deductions for health insurance premiums or surcharging unvaccinated employees. Consult with your benefit plan administrator so the plan documents can be amended properly.

The employment team at Stock and Leader regularly advises our clients on COVID issues.  Please call us if you have questions, or for more details on the information in this article.

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