The Biden Administration announced that the COVID vaccine requirement for federal employees and contractors would end on May 11th, the day the COVID public health emergency is over. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a rule to ban noncompete agreements and a number of members of Congress are urging the FTC to finalize the ban. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $17 per hour. The Department of Labor issued a report noting that almost half of employer-provided accommodations had no cost. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching a national emphasis program to prevent workplace falls.
Administration Ends Vaccine Requirement for Federal Employees & Contractors – The Biden Administration announced the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal employees and federal contractors will end on May 11th, the day the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services will start the process to end vaccination requirements for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services certified health care facilities. According to the statement from the White House, “While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees and promoting the efficiency of workplaces, we are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary.” The White House reported that nearly 270 million Americans received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccination.
Members of Congress Urge the FTC to Finalize Ban on Noncompete Agreements – A group of 10 U.S. Senators and 52 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Lina Khan urging the agency to move forward with the proposed rule banning noncompete agreements. The letter states that the “noncompete rule would impact approximately 30 million Americans, giving them increased freedom to change jobs and create new businesses, and it would increase wages by nearly $300 billion each year.”
The comment period for the proposed rule closed on March 20th and the proposed rule generated a lot of interest with over 26,000 comments being submitted. The FTC stated that the proposed rule would apply to employees, independent contractors, and volunteers. Existing noncompete agreements would need to be rescinded and workers informed that they are no longer in effect. The FTC noted that the proposed rule would make it illegal for an employer to:
Minimum Wage Legislation Introduced – Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $17 per hour over a five year period. Senator Sanders announced that the HELP committee would be voting on his bill on June 14th. The federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009. According to Senator Sanders, "The overwhelming majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage to a living wage.” Senator Sanders has been a long advocate for a minimum wage increase, which has been introduced previously but not approved by Congress. A number of states and local governments have increased the minimum wage to a higher level than the federal rate. Twenty states still use the federal minimum wage.
DOL Report Finds Almost Half of Employer-Provided Accommodations Had No Cost – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a report by the Job Accommodation Network, titled “Accommodation and Compliance: Low Cost, High Impact” that found nearly half of workplace accommodations made for people with disabilities were implemented at no cost to employers. According to the report, where there was a one-time cost, the median expenditure decreased to $300. The Job Accommodation Network is a service of the DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, and the report analyzed survey data collected from employers from 2019 to 2022. Other findings of the report were:
OSHA Launches National Emphasis Program to Prevent Workplace Falls – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has started a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls, which is the leading cause of fatal workplace injuries. The program is designed to focus on reducing injuries and fatalities from falls for people working at heights in all industries. “This national emphasis program aligns all of OSHA’s fall protection resources to combat one of the most preventable and significant causes of workplace fatalities,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. According to OSHA, the program establishes guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards and allows OSHA compliance safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights. An outreach component of the program will focus on educating employers about effective ways to keep their workers safe.
Neil Reichenberg is the former executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources. He is an attorney, a frequent writer and speaker on public policy and human resource issues, and an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University. For questions or additional information, contact Reichenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.