How can I educate employees about COVID-19 vaccines? NEW
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published a toolkit to help essential employers inform their workers about vaccines to protect against COVID-19, raise awareness of the vaccines and address common questions and concerns. Access the toolkit for employers of essential workers.
Can employers require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine? NEW
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance indicating that employers can require most of their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to ensure a safe workplace, with certain exceptions. The commission noted that although the Americans with Disabilities Act limits an employer’s ability to require employees to undergo a medical examination unless job-related and a business necessity, receiving a vaccine doesn’t constitute a medical exam.
Employers must permit two limited but significant exceptions to any mandatory vaccination policy. Employees who refuse to take the vaccine on the basis of a medical condition or sincerely-held religious belief are entitled to request a “reasonable accommodation” from getting the vaccine. Under federal law or applicable state laws, an employee may have a legal right to decline to take the vaccine, and the employer must consider and provide, if appropriate, a reasonable accommodation to allow the employee to maintain an equal opportunity to perform the essential functions of the job or enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
The EEOC has stated that employers may permissibly implement certain medical testing and other screening measures that applicable federal law would otherwise prohibit, given the “significant risk of substantial harm” to others posed by COVID-19. The EEOC also provides guidance on situations in which employers provide the vaccine to their employees.
Read the full EEOC guidance document here.
Listen to our latest podcast episode about everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine deployment in the U.S. as it relates to essential convenience store front-line employees.
New FMLA requirements, paid-time off requirements and other employment-related issues.
Does NACS have a template letter for employees to use when requesting emergency paid sick leave or emergency family and medical leave?
Yes, NACS legal counsels at Fisher Phillips have provided this template letter.
Where can I find information on employment-related issues facing employers?
Fisher & Phillips, NACS legal counsel on employment regulations and issues, maintains COVID-19 workplace information.
In addition to CDC guidance, are there other resources we can access for planning purposes?
Yes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prepared guidance for employers and workers to help identify risks of being exposed to and of contracting COVID-19 in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement. Steptoe & Johnson prepared a memorandum on the guidance for NACS members (login required).
CDC and FDA guidance on preventing the spread of the virus and steps for employees with suspected or confirmed cases.
What are the new quarantine guidelines?
As of January 2022, the CDC updating its guidance on how long to quarantine.
How can retailers reduce conflicts with customers regarding face mask and social distancing policies?
The CDC suggests strategies that businesses can use when employees face the threat of violence from customers who resist policies and practices to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 among employees and customers (for example, required use of face masks, social distancing directions and limits on the number of customers allowed in a business).
The CDC’s Basic Dos and Don’ts for Employees to Prevent Workplace Violence include:
- Don’t argue with a customer if they make threats or become violent.
- Don’t attempt to force anyone who appears upset or violent to follow COVID-19 prevention policies or other policies or practices related to COVID-19 (e.g., limits on numbers of household or food products).
- Do attend all employer-provided training on how to recognize, avoid and respond to potentially violent situations.
- Do report perceived threats or acts of violence to your manager or supervisor, following any existing policies that may be in place.
- Do remain aware of and support coworkers and customers if a threatening or violent situation occurs.
Information on federal loan programs available to businesses.
Where can I find information on the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program?
On April 30, the Federal Reserve released new details on the loan program for mid-sized businesses called the Main Street Loan Facilities. Here are links to the term sheets for these programs: New Loans, Priority Loans and Expanded Loans, as well as an FAQ.
Tell me more about the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
The SBA offers an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for small businesses affected by COVID-19 at an interest rate of 3.75% for small business and 2.75% for non-profits, as well as up to $2 million in assistance and up to 30 years to pay off the loan.
For more information visit the SBA’s website or email email@example.com.
Access NACS resources for emergency planning, preparation and recovery.
Are there resources from NACS available to my company?
NACS Emergency Planning Resources can assist the convenience retail community with disaster planning, preparation and recovery—including pandemics. The downloadable documents, Emergency Planning and Job Aids, include a plan evaluation and tasks and checklists for store employees to perform during emergency and disaster planning and recovery.
A response plan developed by NACS member company StrasGlobal is available to all retailers who may looking for advice on crafting their own plans as they adjust operations in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
Services and supplies for cleaning and sanitizing, including training and CDC guidance for areas where COVID-19 could be present.
Are there cleaning and sanitizing resources I can quickly access to share with my employees?
Contact NACS for assistance with identifying companies in your operating areas that offer cleaning and sanitizing services and supplies.
NACS e-learning partner Ready Training Online (RTO) has created a free seven-minute training module on how to help prevent the spread of illness and disease at businesses.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed EPA-registered surface disinfectant products in its Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 list. The EPA notes that coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product.
The CDC provides recommendations on the cleaning and disinfection of rooms or areas of those with suspected or with confirmed COVID-19 have visited.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education, of which NACS is a partner, has free resources on handwashing and food safety available to retailers to download and share in their stores.
FDA and CDC guidance on fresh produce, food and food packaging.
Should I take additional measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 on food and food packaging?
Per the FDA, currently there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.
Access the latest COVID-19 updates from U.S. government agencies and global organizations.
Where can I find the latest updates from government and global resources?
Access timely information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak from the following resources:
- CDC: guidance for businesses and employers to plan for and respond to community outbreaks.
- Food and Drug Administration: what’s new, medical countermeasures, press statements and additional resources.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidance for businesses.