Way back in January 2021, I set forth my predictions for the year as I’ve done several times before.
But this line sticks out:
[H]ere’s hoping that 2021 brings some renewed hope and optimism. It’s going to be a tough stretch but I’m hoping that we may be closer to the end of this pandemic wave than the beginning.
Oof. We did have that nice stretch in May and June, right?
But right now the Omicron variant is bringing the highest case numbers we’ve seen this whole pandemic. While the hospitalizations are high, we have seen a decoupling from the worst outcomes we saw at the start of this pandemic. In other words, lots of people are getting sick, but not quite as many as getting very sick, particularly if they’ve had vaccinations and boosters.
Nonetheless, Omicron will continue to present major challenges for employers these next few weeks. Already, we’ve seen massive absences in certain segments and I expect that will continue.
We know from our prior experiences that this too will crest and diminish over time. But that’s not going to help us through this next patch.
I talked in late November about how this variant will present unique challenges for employers. And then I talked about three things that employers can be doing right now to diminish the impact of this wave on the workforce. I’ve also talked about how employers now need to factor in CTFMLA and paid leave into such absences.
None of what is occurring now should be a surprise to employers anymore.
So what about predictions for 2022?
I suppose I could be optimistic and say that this Omicron variant will finally be the last big wave we’ll face. But I think we thought that about Delta too.
Instead, I’ll give these four predictions/reminders:
- This week, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether the vaccine mandates are legal. I’ll go out on a limb to say that a heavily divided court will uphold the mandates.
- Connecticut’s minimum wage will increase on July 1 to $14 per hour. But the real change on the horizon is that minimum wages will increase with inflation starting January 1, 2024.
- Also on July 1, 2022? New employment laws regarding the ability to regulate recreational marijuana by employees go into effect. If you haven’t updated your drug and alcohol policies yet, now is a good time to do so.
- And finally, I do expect another busy legislative season in Connecticut. Perhaps restrictions on non-compete agreements will be the focus of a very busy Labor committee?
Patience will be in short supply these next few weeks. Reach out to your counsel to get legal advice where you need it and before you know it, we’ll ride out this Omicron wave together.
Wishing you all a happy, safe and healthy new year.