Updated CDC Guidance: Fully Vaccinated Individuals Need Not Quarantine After COVID-19 Exposure

The CDC’s guidelines state that individuals should quarantine for 14 days after contact with someone with COVID-19, which can be reduced to 10 days if no symptoms developed after exposure.  Now that vaccines are becoming more widely available, employers are asking whether the quarantine period can be shortened or eliminated for their workers who have received the vaccine.

The CDC has stated that the quarantine period can be eliminated entirely for a fully vaccinated individual who meets all criteria – but the guidance is conditioned on the individual meeting all three criteria:

The criteria for allowing a vaccinated individual to skip quarantine – and continue working – after exposure to a COVID-19 case, are:

Cares Act Provider Relief Funds: Reporting Set To Begin In 2021; New Reporting Requirements

The Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) has completed review of Phase 3 applications for the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund (“PRF”) and expects to distribute $24.5 billion to over 70,000 health care providers by the end of this month. These payments are intended to cover loss revenues attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to HRSA, over 35,000 Phase 3 applicants will not receive any additional payment because they either experienced no change in revenues or net expenses attributable to COVID-19, or those that have already received funds that equal or exceed reimbursement of 88% of reported losses.1

COVID-19 Stimulus Bill also Includes Little-known Provision Creating New Streamlined Tribunal for Copyright Infringement Claims

Nearly unnoticed in the wrangling over the amount of COVID relief payments, the stimulus bill signed into law on December 27, 2020 also included several interesting intellectual property provisions.  Buried thousands of pages into the bill, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (the “CASE Act”) establishes a small claims court-type system under the U.S. Copyright Office for copyright holders to pursue low-value claims of copyright violations.

As it stands now, copyright infringement litigation is time-consuming and expensive, especially for small copyright holders.  Copyright infringement is rife on social media, leaving content creators with few options short of hiring a lawyer, sending cease-and-desist letters, and filing lawsuits.  The attorney’s fees for such litigation can easily exceed the recovery for copyright infringement, leaving the content creator at a serious disadvantage.

The CASE Act seeks to address this sort of low-level infringement by setting up a Copyright Claims Board as a mediator to handle small cases of copyright infringement.  For registered copyrighted works, the maximum claim would be $15,000 per work and $30,000 per claim, and unregistered copyrighted works are eligible for half that amount.  The Copyright Claims Board can also issue notices to cease infringement.

This should significantly reduce the time and expense of pursuing legitimate low-value copyright infringement claim.  On the other hand, it may also make it easier for so-called “copyright trolls” to pursue numerous baseless claims for low dollar amounts.  Unsophisticated parties may not realize that they can opt-out of the streamlined process, and may not assert defenses like fair use.

Copyright holders and legal commentators will be watching closely to see how the CASE Act works in practice.  It may provide a real tool in the fight against infringement, or may be a nuisance that serves only to chill speech and run up legal fees.  Content creators struggling for credit for their work certainly deserve to have their intellectual property protected, and hope that the CASE Act will live up to their expectations.

COVID Relief Bill: PPP-Paid Expenses Are Deductible (Updated 12/28/2020)

This past Monday, December 21, a $900 billion pandemic relief bill came out of the U.S. House and Senate. It is called the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. If President Trump signs it, it will become law. Weighing in at 5,593 pages in length, it addresses many areas, including vaccines, education, childcare, jobless benefits, energy, and national security.

Part of the bill is the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (COVIDTRA). One reason why COVIDTRA is getting attention is that it provides direct payments to individual taxpayers, “recovery rebates” – similar to the direct payments that went out to individuals earlier this year.

Another thing COVIDTRA does is clarify that taxpayers whose Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are forgiven ARE allowed deductions for otherwise deductible expenses that were paid with PPP loan proceeds. See COVIDTRA Section 276(a)(1). This overrides the IRS’s earlier position that businesses could not claim deductions for expenses paid with PPP loan proceeds when the loan is forgiven or expected to be forgiven. COVIDTRA also clarifies the tax basis and other attributes of the PPP borrower’s assets will not be reduced as a result of PPP loan forgiveness.

When a PPP loan is forgiven, the borrower does not need to include the amount of the forgiven PPP loan in taxable income. That is a great benefit for the borrower. Now, under COVIDTRA, the ability for taxpayers to deduct expenses paid with forgiven PPP loan money further amplifies the benefits of the PPP loan.

For example, think about a partnership that gets a $100 PPP loan. The partnership spends the $100 on PPP-specific expenses (payroll, rent, etc.), and then has the PPP loan forgiven. The partnership does not pay any federal income tax on the $100. Also, according to COVIDTRA, the partnership can reduce its taxable income by $100 by deducting the $100 that it spent on the PPP-specific expenses. If the owners of the partnership are all taxed at a rate of 37% on ordinary income passed through from the partnership, $100 of PPP money (received tax free) also saves them $37 in taxes.

If it becomes law, this will be a significant tax benefit for many businesses.

On Tuesday, December 22, President Trump threatened not to sign the bill, pressing for higher direct payments and changes to various provisions.  However, on Sunday, December 27, he signed the bill as passed by Congress.

If you have further questions, please contact:

Jim Clarke – 916.558.6084

WEBINAR: Employment Law Update 2020/2021 – Part I & Part II

  • When: Jan 6, 2021
  • Where: Webinar

Summary of Program

Our Labor & Employment Group presents our annual Employment Law Update where they discuss important legal developments from 2020 and review a number of new employment laws and relevant court cases impacting employers in 2021

Program Highlights – Part 1 of 2

This part will focus on:

  • Class Actions
  • Independent Contractors Status
  • Wage and Hour Obligations Specific to Non-Exempt Employees
  • Wage and Hour Obligations Specific to Exempt Employees

This seminar was presented and recorded on January 6, 2021. A recording of this webinar can be viewed on the Weintraub Tobin YouTube page. Please note that this webinar is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. We recommend that you speak to your professional advisors about the specifics of your business.


Program Highlights – Part 2 of 2

This part will focus on developments in:

  • COVID-19 Specific Laws
  • Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Law
  • Leaves of Absence and Reasonable Accommodations Laws
  • Employment, Arbitration and Confidentiality Agreements
  • Privacy Laws

This seminar was presented and recorded on January 13, 2021. A recording of this webinar can be viewed on the Weintraub Tobin YouTube page. Please note that this webinar is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. We recommend that you speak to your professional advisors about the specifics of your business.

Lukas Clary in The Sacramento Bee: A COVID Vaccine is On The Way. Will Employers Require Their Workers Get The Shot?

Sacramento Bee reporter Darrell Smith spoke with labor and employment attorney Lukas Clary for his article on the coming COVID vaccines and whether employers might require their workers to get vaccinated.

With a look at past precedent — H1N1 — we can conclude that an employer will be able to require a vaccination as a condition of employment,” said Lukas Clary, an employment law attorney at Sacramento firm Weintraub Tobin.

But, Clary added, the issue isn’t that straightforward. If the workers are represented by a union, a COVID-19 vaccination program may have to be negotiated with the employees’ bargaining unit. Employers must also consider an employee’s religious beliefs that preclude them from being vaccinated or a medical reason for not taking a vaccine. Liability is also a concern, Clary said. Even if businesses are able to require vaccinations, “It may not be what they want to do,” Clary said. “If someone had an adverse reaction (to the vaccine), it could trigger a workers’ compensation claim.

Clary’s advice: “Encourage but stop short of requiring it. That may be the safe approach for now.

Read the full article here.

Josh Escovedo in the Sacramento Business Journal: An Attorney’s Take on Enforcing Covid-19 Rules

Real estate litigation attorney Josh Escovedo is quoted in the Sacramento Business Journal on his take on the inconsistencies and difficulties of enforcing Covid-19 restrictions relating to businesses.

Government must find a balance between enforcing its rules and protecting the livelihood of small businesses, which can be a difficult position, Escovedo said. 

Read the full article here.

A Deeper Dive into the New Cal/OSHA Temporary Emergency Standards for COVID-19 Prevention

As we wrote on December 3, 2020, an emergency COVID-19 rule was adopted and approved by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. The regulation contains significant new requirements including a mandatory written “COVID-19 Prevention Program,” paid time off in certain circumstances when a “COVID-19 case” is excluded from the workplace, notice and training requirements, and requires that employers offer testing in some situations.

The emergency standards will remain in effect for 180 days unless renewed, withdrawn or replaced. It applies to all California employers covered by Cal/OSHA (generally, employers with ten or more employees at any time during the year).

This blog summarizes and highlights some of the key provisions (other than the requirement that employers develop a written “COVID-19 Prevention Program” as discussed in our previous blog).

California Announces New Regional Stay Home Order

New (and Stricter) COVID-19 Rules Implemented By Cal/OSHA – Employers Should Act Now

On November 30, 2020, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (“Cal/OSHA”) Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulation went into effect. The regulations apply to all employers, employees, and to all places of employment with three exceptions: (1) workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people; (2) employees who are working from home; and (3) employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation.

The emergency regulations provide additional requirements on employers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic in the following areas: COVID-19 prevention, the handling of COVID-19 infections and COVID-19 outbreaks (including major outbreaks), COVID-19 prevention in employer-provided housing, and COVID-19 prevention in employer-provided transportation to and from work. Employers should review the regulations in detail to understand how their own workplace might be affected. Among the issues addressed by the emergency regulations, are the following:

  1. Employers must adopt a written COVID-19 Prevention Program containing the following information:
  • Communication to employees about the employer’s COVID-19 prevention procedures
  • Identify, evaluate and correct COVID-19 hazards
  • Physical distancing of at least six feet unless it is not possible
  • Use of face coverings
  • Use engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment as required to reduce transmission risk
  • Procedures to investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace
  • Provide COVID-19 training to employees
  • Provide testing to employees who are exposed to a COVID-19 case, and in the case of multiple infections or a major outbreak, implement regular workplace testing for employees in the exposed work areas
  • Exclusion of COVID-19 cases and exposed employees from the workplace until they are no longer an infection risk
  • Maintain records of COVID-19 cases and report serious illnesses and multiple cases to Cal/OSHA and the local health department, as required
  1. Guidance on dealing with employees who are COVID-19 positive, or who have been exposed to the illness. Specifically, employers are directed to exclude COVID-19-positive employees and those who have been exposed to COVID-19 from the workplace. If the employee is able and available to work, the employer must continue to provide the employee’s pay and benefits, unless the employer can establish the employee’s exposure was not work-related. The employer may require the employee to exhaust paid sick leave benefits before providing exclusion pay, and may offset payments by the amount an employee receives in other benefit payments.
  2. Specific guidance on what additional actions employers must take amidst a major COVID-19 outbreak, which is defined as a covered workplace that has 20 or more COVID-19 cases within a 30 day-period.

Employers can find more information on the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Guidance and Resources website here, (link https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2020/2020-99.html. In addition, FAQ’s on the emergency regulations can be found here (link https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/COVID19FAQs.html).

These emergency regulations are now in effect. Employers should immediately review their Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Plans to ensure compliance with the new regulation. In many cases, employers will need to revise and update their plans, and payroll procedures previously implemented, in order to comply with these new emergency regulations.

The Labor and Employment attorneys at Weintraub Tobin continue to wish you and your family good health during these challenging times.  If we can assist you in any of your employment law needs, feel free to reach out to us.