From coronavirus vaccines for construction workers to COVID-19 sick leave, we continue to follow some important updates that construction firm owners need to know. Here are some frequently asked questions and COVID construction updates so you can be prepared for what lies ahead in the New Year.
1. When will construction workers receive the vaccine?
We are one step closer to learning when construction workers may be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Even though we haven’t heard specific dates, the CDC recommended that construction workers will likely become eligible for the vaccine after healthcare workers and nursing home residents. People in construction jobs will be part of the 57 million other essential workers to be vaccinated in Phase 1c. But it should also be noted that these recommendations can still be adjusted based on the needs of local populations.
2. What are the pandemic pay requirements for employers?
Another challenge for construction firms has been navigating all of the paid coronavirus sick leave requirements. Although most of the funding starts at the federal level, there are some state and local provisions as well. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is set to expire on December 31 which includes mandated paid sick leave for missing work due to COVID-19. Some employers can reclaim those wage payments as dollar for dollar tax credits, but that relief might be too late according to some analysts. Organizations with fewer than 50 employees were eligible for an exemption if the paid leave would jeopardize the viability of their business. California and New York were some states to enact local COVID-19 sick pay regulations intended to fill in the gaps of the FFCRA. Employers are encouraged to use workforce management tools to automate and track COVID sick pay to avoid costly penalties.
3. Is it true that construction has the highest COVID-19 rate of nearly any industry?
A recent study has indicated that construction workers had the highest asymptomatic positivity rates of any profession, including healthcare staff and other frontline workers. The findings are concerning according to one doctor who pointed out that the high positivity rate could be attributed to people still coming to work with symptoms because they don’t have any paid sick leave left to use. However, construction industry advocates were quick to point out that it was easier for the industry to comply with personal protective equipment requirements because it was already being used in many construction careers before the pandemic. Responsible construction leaders continue to take additional steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including staggering work shifts, social distancing, and regular jobsite disinfecting. Experts suggest that more contact tracing, testing on jobsites and COVID-19 sick pay could also prove effective in preventing the spread.
Construction workers should be among the first essential workers to become eligible for vaccination. The FFCRA was set to expire at the end of the 2020 but stay tuned as a new coronavirus stimulus package was recently signed by the President that could provide even more government aid to employers.
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