Change can be difficult, and no one could have predicted how much change a worldwide pandemic would bring: remote work, office temperature checks, and much more.

Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly’s next free webinar for subscribers will address questions on those issues in “HR Law: Defining the new normal in a post-pandemic workplace.” The webinar, sponsored by Barrett McNagny, will be held 9-10:30 a.m. May 18. Non-subscribers can join in too to get their questions answered for $10.

We’re hopefully in the latter part of a transition period from last year’s shutdown, but not where we were previous to it, said H. Joseph Cohen, a Barrett McNagny partner who has 25 years’ experience in labor and employment law that includes advising multinational corporations to small individually held dental practices.

“We have what we call a new normal,” Cohen said, “meaning we’re not in a lockdown or shutdown where we can’t do anything, but we’re not back to the point where we can do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it in any manner we see fit.”

Cohen and Rachel K. Steinhofer, another Barrett McNagny partner, will talk about the federal acts passed in the last 12 months along with the practical impacts.

“It’s certainly been (an HR) challenge,” said Steinhofer, whose work includes advising on HR issues in the labor and employment department in addition to her litigation work. “...The issues that came up a year ago, obviously, surrounded remote work: How do we monitor our employees? How do we track their progress? What do we do?”

Steinhofer said their clients have always had remote work policies in their employee handbooks, but now the whole staff is working remotely. Additionally, they’ll also discuss what obligations employers have in implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

In March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Act Plan of 2021, which included extending paid family leave and paid sick leave for employees with COVID-19 issues under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Now employers are looking at ways to bring their employees back into the workplace, which means dealing with limiting exposure, contact tracing and quarantining policies.

“We continue to monitor the CDC’s recommendations as well as our state and local health departments on what to do, because we still have to take all of those measures, even though we have the vaccine,” Steinhofer said.

The duo will be discussing during the webinar the confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act in regards to medical conditions, Cohen said.

“So when it came to whether someone had COVID, whether they tested positive or not, or whether they had symptoms, or they had a fever, there was a lot of questions, concerns and, then subsequently answers and guidance, as to how you navigate those requirements,” he said.

That’s evolved into the question: Have you been vaccinated, he said. If the answer is no, then what questions can you follow up with?

“Technically, you can mandate your employees to become vaccinated, but there are, certainly, exceptions to every rule, and that will be an area that we’ll discuss,” he said.

They’ll also talk about the practice of incentivizing vaccinations among employees, including monetary bonuses.

Register for the webinar by going to www.kpceventbuzz.com/webinars and clicking on the name of the webinar on the right.

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