New guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) on May 13, 2021, advises that individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are no longer required to wear a mask or practice social distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings, with the exception of certain forms of public transportation as well as high-risk workplaces including health care settings, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters.
While determining how to implement the CDC’s new guidance, Employers should keep in mind that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) current guidance on COVID-19 recommends that employers do not distinguish between employees who are fully vaccinated and those who are not because at this time, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines prevent transmission of the virus from person-to-person. However, OSHA is expected to release additional guidance in response to the CDC’s update – HR Partners will keep you posted. Additionally, implementing this new guidance in the workplace may present additional challenges, including the possibility of discrimination claims if vaccination status is used as a reason to exclude disabled individuals from certain activities.
HR Partners recommends that employers continue treating all employees in a consistent, non-discriminatory manner, whether or not the employer decides to continue implementing a mask policy. If you have questions about this guidance, or if you need any other assistance with HR needs, please contact HR Partners at 785-233-7860.