OSHA Will Not Amend its COVID-19 ETS Despite CDC Guidance

OSHA recently determined it will not be making changes to the healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS) after reviewing the latest guidance, science and data on COVID-19, and the recently updated CDC face mask guidance. However, OSHA will continue to monitor and assess the need for changes monthly.

OSHA determined that neither the CDC’s guidance on health care settings nor the underlying science and data on COVID-19 in health care settings has materially changed in a way to necessitate changes in the June 10, 2021 ETS.

Revised CDC Guidance

The CDC recently announced updates to its face mask guidelines, recommending that fully vaccinated individuals should wear a mask in public, indoor settings in areas where there is high or substantial COVID-19 transmission, including of the new coronavirus delta variant. Prior to this update, the CDC guidance allowed fully vaccinated individuals to stop wearing a mask in most settings.

OSHA’s Healthcare ETS

Since OSHA has not changed its requirements for the healthcare ETS, the face mask exceptions under the standard still apply. The healthcare ETS covers employers in various health care industries, such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, emergency responders, home health workers and employees in ambulatory care settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated.

Next Steps

Health care employers should continue to monitor the OSHA website for updates on how changes in COVID-19 transmission affect agency policy and guidance. OSHA will continue to assess the need for changes monthly.

ETS Face Mask Exceptions:

Employees are not required under the healthcare ETS to wear face masks when:

  • They are alone in a room;
  • They are eating & drinking;
  • It is important to see a person’s mouth while communicating;
  • Employees are unable to wear face masks due to a medical necessity or condition; or
  • Use of a face mask presents a hazard to an employee of serious death or injury.

5 Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

5 Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

An employee’s mental health includes how they think, feel and act, and includes their emotional and social well-being. While mental health includes mental illness, the two aren’t interchangeable. An employee can go through a period of poor mental health but not necessarily have a clear, diagnosable mental illness. Additionally, an employee’s mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as their workload, stress and work-life balance.

While 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness annually, a recent study by Deloitte revealed that less than half receive treatment. A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit also found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness.

Given its prevalence, you can expect that employees at your organization are experiencing mental health challenges or mental illness. That’s why it’s so important that your organization creates a culture that is supports employees’ mental health. While this may sound complicated, creating a workplace that is supportive of mental health and illness is easier than it seems. Here are five simple ways that your company can support employees and their mental health.

Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Office

The first step to creating a workplace that is supportive of employees’ mental health is promoting awareness and destigmatizing mental health or illness. Provide resources to help employees learn more about mental health or mental illnesses, and give information about how employees who may be struggling can seek out help. When you openly talk about mental health, employees are more likely to feel comfortable about the concept and reach out to managers or co-workers if they’re struggling.

You can also establish a workplace environment that is supportive of mental health by:

  • Encouraging social support among employees, such as an organized support group that meets regularly
  • Setting up an anonymous portal through which employees can reach out to let managers know that they’re struggling with high stress and need help
  • Providing training on problem solving, effective communication and conflict resolution
  • Promoting your employee assistance program (EAP), if you offer one

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Work-life balance, or a lack thereof, can affect an employee’s mental health. To help employees better balance their work and personal lives, employers across the country are embracing workplace flexibility. While this looks different at every company, workplace flexibility can include flextime, telecommuting and unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies. Flexible schedules provide employees with

job satisfaction, better health, increased work-life balance and less stress.

Address Workplace Stress

Nearly 80% of Americans consider their jobs stressful. Chronic workplace stress can contribute to increased employee fatigue, irritability and health problems. Additionally, workplace stress costs U.S. employers approximately $300 billion in lost productivity annually.

While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress altogether for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers.

You can implement various activities to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health and morale—and productivity.

  • Make sure that workloads are appropriate.
  • Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
  • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately—do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors.
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.

Evaluate Your Benefits Offerings

Review the benefits you offer to ensure that they support mental well-being, too. Evaluate your current health plan designs. Do they cover mental health services? Reviewing the offerings that your organization provides is essential to creating a culture that supports employee mental health.

In similar fashion, look to see what voluntary benefits you can offer to support mental well-being. Consider offering simple perks like financial planning assistance (as financial stress often contributes to poor mental health), employee discount programs (where employees can receive gym memberships, stress-reducing massages or acupuncture at a lower cost) and EAPs to support your employees.

Provide Mental Health Training for Managers

One of the most significant problems hindering mental health support at work is the stigma that surrounds mental health. Despite the recent moves in society toward destigmatizing mental health, issues still persist. To ensure that no stigma surrounding mental health exists at your organization, it’s important that you properly train management in recognizing the signs of mental illness, excessive workplace stress, workplace bullying and fatigue. Moreover, managers should be trained to handle potentially difficult conversations with employees surrounding their mental health. Ultimately, they should be prepared to speak openly about mental health rather than avoid the topic. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Workforce webpage to learn more.

NAPEO announces in-person conference opening back up for September 27-29, 2021

NAPEO‘s President, Mr. Pat Cleary has exciting news about future in-person meetings and events!

The following post was from an eMail to the members from NAPEO’s President, Mr.Pat Cleary regarding the status of upcoming events and the status on in-person attendance.


Ten months ago to the day, I sent an email stating that due to COVID-19 and the associated risks that the committee voted against having the annual SAGE event and conference. It was a heartbreaking email to write, in that the conference was a speck of hope for us all, something out in the far distance that we all looked forward to, when this damned thing would be over. But it was not to be. I attached the email here because re-reading it today, it’s a bit of a time capsule, and reminds us of a low point that we experienced – and survived – together.

So today I’m writing with some very good news: I just this hour signed our contract with the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country to hold our conference there – in person – on September 27 – 29 this year. Just about every conversation I have had with any NAPEO member over the past few months has included a discussion of when we would be able to meet again in person. We are all suffering Zoom fatigue, that’s for sure. Looking at the email below, I said, “We want to gather with our members, and as soon as it’s safe to do so, we will.” Every organization has its own level of risk tolerance. Our litmus throughout has been the health and safety of our members and of our team here at NAPEO. Comforted and fortified by the upward trend in vaccinations and downward trend in cases – and the slow easing of restrictions – we will hold our first in-person meeting, our CFO Seminar, at the end of June (location TBD) and hold our Georgia Leadership Council Forum in-person on June 28. And the conference in September. 

I’ve said so many times that the arc of meetings during COVID was like this: Plan the meeting, book the hotel, promote the meeting, watch the registrations climb, meeting draws near, registrations begin to cancel, then the meeting cancels. We did that dance too many times in 2020. For our November Board of Directors meeting, we asked our 24 Board members if they wanted to meet virtually or in person. Twenty two said they wanted to meet in person, so we planned the meeting. The week before, in the face of too many cancellations, we moved the meeting to virtual. It was a discouraging, defeating, and tiresome cycle.

So if the cancellation of the 2020 in-person conference was a sign of despair, let this now be a sign of hope, of light, and of hopefully reaching the end of this pernicious thing that has dogged us for so long. As I said in the email below, “The sun will shine again.” And indeed it will – in San Antonio, in September.

I want to thank all of you who have stood by us, who have gamely pivoted with us to the virtual world. It wasn’t a world we wanted, but it was the world we were handed. I want to especially thank our associate members. The face to face meeting is their lifeblood, an option they didn’t have for the past year. They, too, stood with us, and we are grateful. And finally, I want to thank my team here at NAPEO. I use the royal “we” all the time, but the truth is they are the ones who are doing the innovating, the pivoting, the work. 

As I always say, this thing isn’t completely over yet, but we appear to be moving in the right direction. I look forward to seeing – and celebrating with – you all in San Antonio. 

All the best,

Pat Cleary
President & CEO
NAPEO
707 N. St. Asaph St.
Alexandria, Va. 22314
703-739-8163

Restaurant Revitalization Fund – Act Now – the Portal is Open

The American Rescue Plan Act put in place the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to help restaurants and other eligible businesses with funding. The Small Business Administration (SBA) application portal opens today, Friday, April 30, 2021 at 9 am. Applications will be available on Monday, May 3, 2021 at noon.

If you have been in business from January 2020 through March 2021, start pulling the information together now so you can apply when the portal application opens. Below, we have pulled some of the important items to know from SBA.gov .

Who is Eligible

Eligible entities who have experienced pandemic-related revenue loss include:

  • Restaurants
  • Food stands, food trucks, food carts
  • Caterers
  • Bars, saloons, lounges, taverns
  • Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars
  • Bakeries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Breweries and/or microbreweries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Wineries and distilleries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Inns (onsite sales of food and beverage to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products

Even those that were just starting out in Q1 of 2020, and unable to prove loss of gross receipts, are still eligible for assistance. This is great, as mostly everything offered previously has been weighted on the previous revenues and incurred loss. Instead of prior year proof of receipts, they will take into account the business plan/model for the newly opened business in 2020.

How to Apply

Check out the RRF page, here, on the SBA website for application process. You have 2 options, you can apply through your SBA-recognized Point of Sale system or through the online application portal. Use this link to access the sample application, SBA Form 3172, and prepare what will be needed to apply. You can also access this RRF guide to help you through the process.

Additional Documentation Needed to Apply

Additional documentation required:

  • Verification for Tax Information: IRS Form 4506-T, completed and signed by Applicant. Completion of this form digitally on the SBA platform will satisfy this requirement.
  • Gross Receipts Documentation: Any of the following documents demonstrating gross receipts and, if applicable, eligible expenses
    • Business tax returns (IRS Form 1120 or IRS 1120-S)
    • IRS Forms 1040 Schedule C; IRS Forms 1040 Schedule F
    • For a partnership: partnership’s IRS Form 1065 (including K-1s)
    • Bank statements
    • Externally or internally prepared financial statements such as Income Statements or Profit and Loss Statements
    • Point of sale report(s), including IRS Form 1099-K

For applicants that are a brewpub, tasting room, taproom, brewery, winery, distillery, or bakery:

  • Documents evidencing that onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33.00% of gross receipts for 2019, which may include Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) Forms 5130.9 or TTB. For businesses who opened in 2020, the Applicant’s original business model should have contemplated at least 33.00% of gross receipts in onsite sales to the public. 

For applicants that are an inn:

  • Documents evidencing that onsite sales of food and beverage to the public comprise at least 33.00% of gross receipts for 2019.

Other Important Items to Highlight

For businesses who opened in 2020, the Applicant’s original business model should have contemplated at least 33.00% of gross receipts in onsite sales to the public.

The PPP loan dollars that you previously applied for and received will be deducted from the gross receipts calculation. So as long as your 2019 gross receipts exceed what you received in gross receipts for 2020 and the funds received under the PPP loan in 2020 you will be able to apply for relief through this fund.

EIDL loan amounts received are not included in this application calculation consideration.

Allowable Use of the Funds

  • Business payroll costs (including sick leave)
  • Payments on any business mortgage obligation
  • Business rent payments (note: this does not include prepayment of rent)
  • Business debt service (both principal and interest; note: this does not include any prepayment of principal or interest)
  • Business utility payments
  • Business maintenance expenses
  • Construction of outdoor seating
  • Business supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials)
  • Business food and beverage expenses (including raw materials)
  • Covered supplier costs
  • Business operating expenses

We, at Libertate Insurance Services, wish you luck in this process.