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Insider Information For Employers

CMS Extends Vaccination Deadline for Healthcare Workers in 25 States

In Employment Situation

Editor’s Note: News and updates surrounding COVID-19 vaccination mandates continue to evolve rapidly. Check back for news on the Mployer Advisor blog as developments unfold. For state-specific guidance, please refer to OSHA’s site here.   On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule, which required the vaccination of all healthcare workers at CMS-covered facilities. The CMS mandate is expected to cover more than 10.4 million healthcare workers across 76,000 facilities nationwide.  The CMS ruling came on the same day as the court ruled to block the Biden administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine mandate that targeted large employers. Previously, the OSHA mandate required that businesses with 100 or more employees implement a vaccination requirement for workers or require a weekly testing alternative.  Because the CMS rule was paused during litigation, the federal government extended the COVID-19 vaccination deadline in 24 states. According to guidance from CMS, workers now have until February 14 to receive their first COVID-19 dose and must be completely vaccinated by March 15.   These revised deadlines apply to the following states:  * Alabama  * Alaska  * Arizona  * Arkansas  * Georgia  * Idaho  * Indiana  * Iowa  * Kansas  * Kentucky  * Louisiana  * Mississippi  * Missouri  * Montana  * Nebraska  * New Hampshire  * North Dakota  * Ohio  * Oklahoma  * South Carolina  * South Dakota  * Utah  * West Virginia  * Wyoming   Texas officials challenged the CMS directive, which a federal district court dismissed on January 20. As such, Texas healthcare workers must now receive their first vaccine dose by February 22 and be fully vaccinated by March 21.   Compliance timelines were not affected for healthcare providers in the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, or the remaining 25 states that did not challenge the mandate.   Compliance Standards and Enforcement  According to a recent post from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the CMS vaccination requirement applies to all healthcare workers at CMS-covered facilities, even if those employees do not have contact with patients or clinical responsibilities.   What’s more, staff members who work remotely but still have some contact with other staff members–such as in-person staff meetings or at worksites–must also comply. Only staff who perform all their duties remotely are exempt from the vaccination mandate.   According to guidance from CMS, “Facility staff vaccination rates under 100 percent constitute noncompliance under the rule.” However, CMS clarified noting that “Noncompliance does not necessarily lead to termination [from the programs], and facilities will generally be given opportunities to return to compliance.”  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a fully vaccinated person as an individual who has two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC recommends that eligible individuals receive a booster shot in addition to their primary vaccine, however a booster is not required under the CMS rule.   The CMS mandate also requires employers to track employees’ vaccination status, including creating a policy to record religious or medical exemptions and employee accommodations.   Unsure of how to navigate the ongoing uncertainty caused by the evolving COVID-19 pandemic? Register now for Mployer Advisor’s upcoming webinar “COVID-19 Compliance in the Workplace: Strategies for Success in Uncertain Times.”   Looking for more exclusive content? Head over to the Mployer Advisor blog, or click here to read four industry leaders’ top employee benefits predictions for 2022.  

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The Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

In Insurance Broker, Employee Benefits

Building a diverse workplace is essential to creating a welcoming and successful work environment and competing for top talent in your industry. Study after study has shown the incredible benefits of a diverse workplace, specifically how a variety in leadership, work styles and backgrounds can drive innovation and improve the overall employee experience.   Of course, building and cultivating a workplace that nurtures talent across all ages, backgrounds and religions is neither a small task nor is it a quick one. What’s more, it’s important to recognize that committing to improving your company’s diversity touches all levels of your organization, including traditional methods of recruitment, retention and more. This means that simply putting together a new policy plan, while effective, is only the first step.   Read on for an explainer on the benefits of implementing a more diverse workforce and the timely steps your company can take to get there.   Benefits of Workplace Diversity   1. Drives Innovation and New Perspectives   When you hire from a wide talent pool filled with candidates from diverse backgrounds and cultures, your company will benefit from a variety of ideas and perspectives–ideas that would likely never come to light without a team brimming with strategic thinkers. If everyone on the team has the same way of thinking, your performance could be hindered and your ability to creatively solve problems or approach complex issues may be compromised.   2. Attracts New Talent and New Business   It makes sense that a wider array of ideas and perspectives would perform better, right? As a result, you’ll bring in more profits and drive new business opportunities within your company.   In McKinsey’s 2020 report “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” researchers discovered that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. A similar study from McKinsey found that companies with ethnically and culturally diverse boards are 43% more likely to experience higher profits. These powerful statistics cannot be ignored. Commit to offering your employees experienced and diverse leaders and teammates.   3. Widens Your Talent Pool   Sixty-seven percent of applicants consider workplace diversity a significant factor when taking on new opportunities or roles. As such, managing a diverse workforce is imperative to attracting top talent. Furthermore, a modern workforce needs to see that all values, perspectives and ideas are valued, and that your company has long-term initiatives supporting that core belief.   Not sure how your employees feel about your current diversity plan? It may be time to gather feedback. Check out WorkTango’s DEI survey and make your own for employees to answer. Their results should give you the answers that you need.   How Can You Increase Diversity in the Workplace?   1. Be Aware That Unconscious Biases Exist   Even with the best of intentions, people tend to bring unconscious biases into their everyday interactions. Much as the saying “birds of a feather flock together” goes, the same can be said for ourselves and our natural tendency to gravitate toward those to whom we’re most similar (in attitude, personality, and so on). When we address our biases head-on, however, companies and managers can expect better outcomes such as:   · Stronger decision-making · Increased diversity · Increased employee engagement · More productivity · Reduced recruitment costs   How can you overcome bias? We recommend:   · Learn more about different cultures and backgrounds and think deeply about how they could benefit your work. · Create a safe environment where employees feel free to speak up and question certain agendas, priorities or decision-making.   2. Communicate Your Goals and Measure Results   Your company’s efforts to create a more welcoming workplace won’t go anywhere unless you form a plan and add layers of accountability to properly communicate and execute your goals. As a general rule, create a team that can oversee and measure progress.   It’s also important to measure your results and ensure employee satisfaction with a survey. The only way your employees will notice that you truly advocate for diversity is by continually assessing and improving on your company’s policies and best practices.   Stay tuned for part two on how to create a sense of inclusion. Diversity is the first step, but inclusion is the key to leveraging your diverse talent to its fullest extent.   Looking for relatable content? Read our blog on how to retain your company’s top talent here. Are you noticing workplace burnout among employees? Read our blog on what steps and actions HR leaders can take to minimize this well-known issue.  

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For Employers


CMS Extends Vaccination Deadline for Healthcare Workers in 25 States

In Employment Situation