New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as a tax credit that assists employers giving paid time off for COVID-19-related leave could help roofing contractors get back to normal.
Contrary to the typical guideline announcements made throughout the pandemic, the CDC’s new guidelines, released April 27, are lifting certain preventative measures. Perhaps most relevant is that fully vaccinated workers no longer have to wear masks when conducting outdoor activities. A person is considered fully vaccinated at least two weeks after they received the last dose of their vaccine.
Fully vaccinated workers no longer need to be restricted from work if they’re exposed to COVID either, so long as they’re asymptomatic. Those who travel in the U.S. do not need to be tested for COVID before or after travel or self-quarantine after traveling.
“Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” the CDC states on its website.
There are caveats for contractors to consider, such as whether they are working in a high-risk building like a nursing home or hospital, or if private individuals or venues require masks to be worn.
Along with the benefits mentioned above, the updated guidelines include no longer having to wear a mask in the following instances when fully vaccinated:
- Being indoors with other people who are fully vaccinated.
- Gathering indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (unless any of those people are at increased risk for severe illness).
- Spending time outdoors with members of your household.
- Attending small gatherings outside with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
- Dine at an outdoor restaurant with people from multiple households.
Indoor activities, such a getting a haircut, going to an indoor movie theater, eating at a restaurant, riding public transport and attending a house of worship are considered safe activities for fully vaccinated people so long as they are wearing a mask.
“You’re going to see more and more benefits coming out of being vaccinated, less and less restrictions,” said Trent Cotney, CEO of Cotney Attorneys & Consultants, during an episode of RC’s Legal Insights. “It’s going to be the kind of thing where, if you’re not getting vaccinated, you’re going to be in a bad position because you’re probably still going to have to wear a mask, you’re still going to have to do a lot of these things that need to be done.”
Tax Credits for Paid Time Off
The new guidelines coincide with a tax credit program funded by the American Rescue Plan that provides full pay for employees who take time off to get and recover from a COVID-19 vaccination. The tax credit applies to small- and medium-sized businesses. Those with fewer than 500 employees will have paid leave covered for up to $511 per day for up to 10 workdays taken between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2021.
“Not only can you potentially obtain tax credits for getting those vaccines, but when you start thinking about tying it in with a voluntary incentive program, it’s possible that you can offer paid time off but then still be able to get tax credits on the back end,” Cotney said. “Obviously, talk to your tax professionals.”
These extra incentives may convince those in the roofing industry to get the vaccine, as a study held earlier this year showed only 53% of workers in the construction industry would get the vaccine. Vaccines can legally be mandated as a condition of employment, but in general, legal experts say it’s easier to have a voluntary program for vaccinating employees.
The number of daily COVID vaccines given in the U.S. has slowed down for the first time in February, despite every American being eligible to receive one.
“I think (the guidelines) will change the minds of some just because of the hassle, and if you can eliminate of some of that, but I think you’re going to have a large percentage of the population that is not going to get it,” Cotney said.