SHRM Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and SHRM is highlighting the vital contributions of employees with disabilities and meeting with stakeholders to champion diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces.

As the month began:

  • Emily M. Dickens, SHRM chief of staff and head of government affairs, met with Taryn Williams, assistant secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the U.S. Department of Labor to discuss the ongoing 15-year alliance between SHRM and ODEP, ODEP’s 20th anniversary and how SHRM can continue serving as a resource to ODEP.
  • Dickens and SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, participated in the annual meeting of the CEO Commission for Disability Employment, which was co-founded by SHRM, VOYA Financial and the National Down Syndrome Society to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities and raise awareness of their untapped potential.
  • Dickens joined Colorado state Sen. Julie Gonzales, D; Washington state Rep. My-Linh Thai, D; and policy advocates to discuss disability employment policy at the Women In Government Healthcare and Technology Summit in Washington, D.C.

SHRM will hold its INCLUSION Conference virtually and in person in Austin, Texas, from Oct. 25-27. Speakers include CEO Commission members John and Mark Cronin, founders of Long Island, N.Y.-based John’s Crazy Socks. They will join the Together Forward @Work panel discussion with Mimi Dixon of Crayola and Casey Adams Jones of Johnson & Johnson. 

SHRM also urges HR professionals to reaffirm their commitment to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities by signing the SHRM Disability Inclusion Pledge and using the disability employment resources from ODEP and the SHRM Foundation.

Read President Joe Biden’s proclamation on National Disability Employment Awareness Month urging all Americans to embrace the talents and skills of workers with disabilities and promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people.

ODEP Hosts Webinar on Inclusive Workplace Culture

The Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) will host a webinar titled “Disability-Inclusive Workplace Culture: Building It to Last” on Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to noon ET. 

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the webinar will explore how companies build and sustain disability-inclusive cultures and how organizations can apply these lessons to create stronger, more inclusive workplaces as they recover from the pandemic. 

Registration is open now. 

Do you want to bring more awareness to National Disability Employment Awareness Month via social media? ODEP created a social media toolkit to help stakeholders spread the word.

New Guidance Published on HIPAA and Vaccinations

On Sept. 30, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights issued guidance to help the public understand when Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules apply to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The guidance reiterates that HIPPA does not prevent any individual, employer or business from asking whether someone has received a vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine. 

HIPAA privacy rules only apply to how and when covered entities, such as health plans and health care providers, are permitted to use and disclose protected health information.

Vaccination Deadline Set for Federal Workers

resident Biden’s administration has set a Nov. 8 deadline for the federal workforce to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. 

Federal workers who do not receive the COVID-19 vaccine or seek lawful accommodation may face suspension without pay for 14 days, followed by removal or termination.

Administration: Vaccination Incentives are Legal

On Oct. 4, the federal government issued guidance clarifying that insurance incentives or surcharges related to COVID-19 vaccinations are legal. 

The guidance also explained that group health plans and health insurance issuers cannot determine eligibility for benefits based on health factors, including vaccination status.

Watchdog Faults COVID-19 Paid-Leave Enforcement

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report stating that the department struggled to ensure qualifying workers were paid sick and family leave due to COVID-19.

The OIG said the department’s Wage and Hour Division failed to provide staff with adequate and timely guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Acting Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman defended the division’s performance, arguing it had only weeks to implement policies to handle the increased number of complaints, but she agreed with many of the OIG’s recommendations.

SHRM Meets Leaders of International Organizations in Geneva

Last week, SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, and Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs Emily M. Dickens traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with leaders of international organizations representing employers and workers. 

This trip was part of SHRM’s 2021 Global Outreach initiative to strengthen existing relationships, elevate the voice of HR and ensure SHRM is recognized as the go-to subject matter expert on global workplace issues.

SHRM leaders met with leaders from the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Federation des Enterprises Romandes (FER).

Above, from left: Taylor, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, Dickens, and SHRM Executive Operations Manager Antonio Cuevas.

SHRM members in Geneva also came together to discuss the complexities of HR in different countries.

Above, from left: Ronald Pittet, global HR business partner for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies; Olga Ivanchuk, SHRM-SCP, people and culture director, Japan Tobacco International; Taylor; Sheona Kellman, counsellor, Permanent Mission of Barbados in Geneva; Cuevas; and Dickens.

Supreme Court Begins New Term with Employment Cases

As the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term, SHRM is tracking several cases that will have a lasting impact on employment law:

  • On Nov. 2, the court will hear oral arguments in a case concerning a whistleblower claim and whether a federal court has the authority to confirm or vacate an arbitration award.
  • On Nov. 30, justices will consider whether plaintiffs who file suit under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act can collect damages for emotional distress.
  • On Dec. 6, justices will consider a case about the fiduciary responsibilities of employers in recommending and managing retirement funds.
  • On Dec. 7, the court will consider CVS Pharmacy Inc. v. Doe, in which the plaintiffs claim the CVS employee benefits policy forces them to “forgo essential counseling and consultation from specialty pharmacists.”

DOL Issues Final Rule on Tip Sharing

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) may fine employers in more circumstances when they violate federal tip-sharing regulations under a recently issued rule that clarifies when managers and supervisors can keep gratuities they receive. 

Under the new rule, employers could be fined up to $1,100 for each time they improperly retain employee tips, regardless of whether the violation is repeated or willful. 

Additionally, the final rule clarifies that managers and supervisors may contribute to mandatory tip pools and states they may keep tips they receive directly from customers for services they directly provide. The rule will take effect on Nov. 23.

Newsome Vetoes Veterans’ Preference Bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the SHRM-sponsored SB 665, which would have authorized private employers to establish a voluntary hiring preference for veterans. 

The bill passed the California Senate and Assembly with overwhelming support. The governor expressed concern regarding how the legislation would affect groups underrepresented with veterans and committed to working with state Sen. Tom Umberg, D, to find a path forward. 

Earlier this year, Umberg’s office reached out to SHRM to be the lead sponsor of SB 665. SHRM and the California State Council of SHRM (CalSHRM) assisted Umberg in drafting the bill and provided research for analysis by Senate and Assembly committees. 

SHRM members Michael Kalt and Ari Friedman provided testimony on behalf of SHRM and CalSHRM during multiple committee hearings, and many CalSHRM members urged the governor to sign the bill into law. 

“SB 665 includes numerous previously proposed amendments to ensure it cannot be used to intentionally discriminate against any protected group,” Kalt testified. “The current military is incredibly diverse, often with members of protected groups enlisted at higher rates than the general population.” 

For information on SB 665 or any California workplace policy issue, please contact SHRM Director of State Affairs Jason Gabhart at [email protected] or (916) 833-0462.

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Advancing Workplace Issues in 2021

SHRM is proud to be working with several organizations to highlight workplace issues in 2021. They include Fratelli Group, NAICU, Palladian Hill Strategies, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Viatris.

As the Voice of All Things Work, SHRM pursues nonpartisan public policy to promote flexible, inclusive and equitable workplaces that help business thrive as talent is tapped, trained and empowered to reach its full potential. Policy not politics.

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