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New laws and regulations, evolving public health guidelines, and changing workplace trends caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have increased administrative and HR challenges for employers in the last 18 months.

Use our year-end compliance checklist to help you successfully manage W-2 and tax reporting season and remain compliant in the new year.

OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard for Large Employers

On Nov. 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring private employers with 100 or more workers to ensure all employees are either fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or provide a weekly negative test and wear a face covering while working.

  • Employers must have collected and recorded the vaccination status of all employees by Dec. 6 and keep their roster updated.
  • Employees who have not provided proof of vaccination have to wear masks starting Dec. 6, 2021.
  • Unvaccinated employees have to provide weekly COVID-19 test results starting Jan. 4, 2022.
  • Employers must also provide paid time off for employees to get the vaccine and recover from effects of the vaccine.

The ETS has been temporarily suspended by a federal appeals court, but additional rulings are forthcoming. Employers should continue to prepare and create their policies.

Read a summary of the ETS.

Vaccination Requirements for Health Care Workers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also issued an Interim Final Rule on Health Care Staff Vaccination requiring all staff who work in or visit Medicare- or Medicaid-certified facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • The deadline for these employees to be vaccinated is also Jan. 4, 2022.
  • Employees do not have an option to provide weekly tests in lieu of vaccination.
  • The only exemptions are for medical and religious reasons.

Covered employers should immediately establish processes for collecting proof of vaccination, create their written policy, and share with employees.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Compliance

The Department of Labor is actively pursuing Wage and Hour violations stemming from staff changes made during the pandemic. Employers should review their compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Has the exemption from overtime status of any of your employees been affected due to changing roles, responsibilities or pay rates? Are you properly tracking remote employees’ hours to ensure they are being paid for all hours worked? With so many employers making staff changes or adjusting work schedules and policies in response to COVID-19, now is a good time to review FLSA wage standards.

Compliance for Out-of-State Remote Employees

With remote work becoming more common, many employees are taking the opportunity to relocate. Though this is a benefit that helps attract and retain talent, it can also increase compliance burdens. Employers need to know if an employee moves to a new state in order to:

  • Ensure they have workers’ compensation coverage in all states their employees work in
  • Collect and file state payroll taxes
  • Comply with local employment laws
  • Comply with unemployment insurance reporting and taxes

To remain in compliance, employers should regularly audit remote workers to find out who is working out of state.

OSHA COVID-19 Reporting Requirements

OSHA updated its requirements for reporting work-related COVID-19 fatalities and hospitalizations for employers who are covered by the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). These employers must now report any work-related COVID-19 fatality within eight hours of learning about the death, and hospitalizations within 24 hours of learning about it. The amount of time that elapsed between workplace exposure and either the death or hospitalization does not matter for reporting purposes.

Employers not covered by the ETS are required to report fatalities that occur within 30 days of the work-related exposure and hospitalizations that occur within 24 hours of the work-related exposure.

Employers are also required report workplace COVID-19 cases on their OSHA 300 logs if the case is a confirmed workplace exposure. Review OSHA’s reporting standards.

Employee Handbooks

Does your employee handbook reflect your current policies and procedures, as well as changes in employment law that have been made since your last update? If you introduced or updated your COVID-19 vaccination policies, or made changes to leave policies or telecommuting policies, make sure these have been added to your employee handbook.

Wage Cap for Social Security Payroll Taxes

In 2022, the wage cap for Social Security payroll taxes will rise to $147,000, which means employees pay Social Security payroll taxes on earnings up to $147,000. This is an increase of $4,200 from the 2021 maximum of $142,800. There is no cap on Medicare payroll taxes.

401(k) Contribution Limits

The 401(k) contribution limit for 2021 is increasing by $1,000 to $20,500. The catchup contribution limit for employees over the age of 50 remains the same at $6,500.

Minimum Wages

More than 20 states raised their minimum wage in 2021, and as many states are expected to raise their minimum wage throughout the coming year. Review minimum wage changes in your state and order updated labor law posters, if needed.

In the year ahead, Anthros will continue to serve as a resource for clients in navigating compliance and HR changes and work with you to reduce the burdens and risks of being an employer.

If HR and compliance burdens are taking time away from core business functions, your business would benefit from turning over these tasks to a team of experts. Having a skilled team at your side also provides the support you need in times of change and growth. Learn more about outsourcing your HR to a team of experts.


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