COVID-19 INFORMATION & RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS
**Updated 1/25/2022 at 1:25 p.m.
OSHA formally withdraws COVID-19 vax and testing mandate
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Tuesday, Jan. 25, announced it is withdrawing the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard issued on Nov. 5, 2021, for employers with 100 or more employees from workplace exposure to coronavirus. The withdrawal is effective Wednesday, Jan. 26.
OSHA in a statement on its website stated that while the administration is withdrawing the COVID-19 vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, it’s not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard, OSHA stated.
OSHA maintains it “strongly encourages vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.”
The decision follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this month that blocked the rule.
NH unemployment rate falls to 2.6%
New Hampshire’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 2.6%. This was a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the November rate, which remained at 2.7% after revision.
The December 2020 seasonally adjusted rate was 3.8%, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on New Hampshire’s labor force statistics.
Seasonally adjusted estimates for December 2021 placed the number of employed residents at 724,950, down 130 from November and down 9,220 from December 2020. The number of unemployed residents decreased by 880 over-the-month to 19,560. This was 9,660 fewer unemployed than in December 2020. From November 2021 to December 2021, the total labor force decreased by 1,010 to 744,510. This was a decrease of 18,880 New Hampshire residents from December 2020.
For a complete report, visit www.nhes.nh.gov/elmi.
Gov. Sununu applauds Supreme Court ruling to block OSHA COVID-19 vax mandate
By Jason King, news reporter
CONCORD — The governor is weighing in on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to block the Biden administration's requirement that employees of large U.S. employers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask while working.
The court's conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority to impose the rule through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for businesses of at least 100 employees, which would have affected 80 million Americans.
Gov. Chris Sununu has opposed the OSHA rule since it was announced last year. New Hampshire was one of a number of states that originally sued President Joe Biden over the rule.
"I would like to thank the Supreme Court for listening to the countless businesses across our state that would have faced catastrophic workforce shortages had this mandate gone through," Gov. Sununu said. "I am as pro-vaccine as they come, but (Thursday’s) decision to halt the president's overreaching vaccine mandate is good news for employees and the businesses that keep our supply chains running and economy open."
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled Jan. 13 that the administration can proceed with its mandate for most health care workers in the U.S.
Click here to read WMUR’s full story.
Gov. Sununu asks for Treasury approval to use federal funds for affordable housing
CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu this week wrote to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen following up on his May 4, 2021, letter regarding the Treasury’s narrow limitations on how states can use Emergency Rental Assistance program funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (ERA1).
The governor is urging the Treasury to allow states like New Hampshire to use these one-time funds to invest in affordable housing for working families.
“Specifically, I cannot understate the critical need for New Hampshire to retain all funds allocated for the state under ERA1 and the need for the state to be allowed to deploy these funds in a manner that ensures a positive and generational impact for our most vulnerable communities throughout the Granite State,” Sununu wrote in his letter.
According to governor, New Hampshire has provided more than $85 million in rental and utility relief to Granite Staters through ERA1 and ERA2.
“However, we believe this funding will have a much greater and longer-term impact on the state’s working families if we are allowed to invest in our most critical housing-related expense — the increase in building costs due to the pandemic.”
A copy of Gov. Sununu’s Jan. 11, 2022, letter can be found here.
First-time unemployment claims in NH as 2022 begins
Unemployment numbers in New Hampshire – which appeared to have bottomed out around Thanksgiving – seem to be increasing, though the state still seems to be below pre-pandemic levels.
Some 3,461 Granite Staters collected jobless benefits during the last week of 2021, up nearly 28 percent compared to the week before. It’s unclear if this is just a post-holiday slump or if the latest Omicron surge or if supply chain issues are the culprit.
Click here to read Bob Sanders’ story in NH Business Review.
Last chance to comment on OSHA's emergency vaccine rule
The Society for Human Resource Management reports the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is giving private employers and the public more time to comment on whether to make permanent its emergency temporary standard (ETS) directing certain businesses to ensure workers are vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. OSHA extended the comment period by 45 days
OSHA suspended implementation and enforcement of the vaccine mandate following a court order that temporarily halted the directive. OHSA said it "remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies" and "the comment period is separate from the litigation."
OSHA published the ETS in the Federal Register Nov. 5. Among other COVID-19-related safety rules, the directive requires businesses with at least 100 employees to ensure employees who are not fully vaccinated wear masks by Dec. 6 and submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis starting Jan. 4, 2022.
Written comments must be submitted by Jan. 19 to www.regulations.gov in Docket No. OSHA-2021-0007.
NH’s unemployment rate falls in November
New Hampshire saw its unemployment rate drop slightly in November.
The state’s Employment Security office reported Tuesday, Dec. 14, that New Hampshire’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2021 was 2.7%, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from the October rate, which remained at 2.9% after revision. The November 2020 seasonally adjusted rate was 4.2%, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on New Hampshire’s labor force statistics.
Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2021 was 4.2%, a decrease of 0.4 percentage points from October, and a decrease of 2.5 percentage points from November 2020.
The following links are provided to employers seeking more information on best practices for responding to Coronavirus:
US Chamber Coronavirus Information Page
Center for Disease Control – Guidance for Business
US Department of Labor
NH Department of Health & Human Services