Utilizing Public Sector Apprenticeships to Improve Employment Outcomes

Dexter Horne 

Prior to his inauguration, President Joe Biden pledged to invest $50 billion in workforce training, including a substantial investment in the national Registered Apprenticeship Program that would “exponentially increase the number of apprenticeships in this country.” Concurrently, the House passed a bill in November — which has now received its second reading in the Senate — that would invest nearly $4 billion over five years in apprenticeship program expansion. These promises and actions at the federal level show that, in a country challenged by recession and high retirement rates, policymakers believe that apprenticeships are viable employment solutions.  

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Building Resilience: How Inclusive Apprenticeship Programs Are Responding to COVID-19

By Elise Gurney

Work-based learning experiences – like apprenticeships, job shadowing, and internships – serve a vital role in helping youth with disabilities transition into the workforce. In particular, they allow youth to develop job skills, identify strengths and career interests, and build their resumes. Yet, just like school-based learning, work-based learning has faced significant disruptions due to COVID-19. While some work-based learning can be easily transitioned to an online format, other programs pose greater challenges. 

Apprenticeships are one area where states are grappling with how to continue providing opportunities for youth with disabilities. Apprenticeships include on-the-job training and related classroom instruction, and result in a portable and marketable credential. According to the DOL Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Apprenticeship Inclusion Models (AIM) initiative, “building, scaling, and sustaining apprenticeship programs can be challenging under ordinary circumstances,” and the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced additional hardships. While some classroom components can be conducted remotely, many on-the-job training components can’t be – particularly for hands-on industries like manufacturing or construction. 

The AIM team is leading a webinar to discuss how apprenticeship stakeholders are responding to the current crisis and designing more resilient programs for the future. “Emerging Lessons for Inclusive Apprenticeship Programs Managing Through Crises and Beyond” is the latest installment of AIM’s Research Brief Series, and will feature experts in the inclusive apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship spaces. 

The webinar will be held on Wednesday, September 16, from 1pm to 2:30pm EDT. Register here: https://www.addevent.com/event/zb5072251 

AIM is a collaboration between Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), Wheelhouse Group (Wheelhouse), and Jobs for the Future (JFF). To learn more about the AIM project, please visit the AIM website at https://www.spra.com/aim/.

National Apprenticeship Week

By Christina Gordley & Dexter Horne

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is November 8-14, 2020! The week is a nationwide celebration sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor to unite business leaders, job seekers, educational institutions and other vital partners to show their support for apprenticeships. National Apprenticeship Week allows apprenticeship sponsors to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships and exhibit the ways in which they can provide a gateway for individuals to join the workforce. States can benefit too; the wide range of public and private apprenticeships showcased during this week serve as models for the types of programs that could be implemented at the state level.

Apprenticeships provide vital hands-on technical training for individuals seeking to gain new skills and employment while allowing them to earn a paycheck. Apprenticeships also help individuals gain the skills and experience needed to help employers build a skilled talent base customized to their needs as industry demands change. According to Apprenticehips.gov, workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn an average salary of $70,000. Successful apprenticeship programs can bring significant value to a state through worker employability, productivity and earnings potential.

Registered Apprenticeships vs. Work-based learning

The Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) is a proven model that has been validated by the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency. Apprentices are paid employees that develop skills in a structured work setting. Their training is enhanced with classroom education and professional mentorship. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, the apprenticeship receives a national portable credential.

Work-based learning (WBL) initiatives range from internships, apprenticeships, mentorships, job-shadowing, and classroom learning. Through these initiatives, states can provide individuals the opportunity to develop hard and soft skills to succeed in the workplace. Work-based learning programs are different from registered apprenticeships in that not all participants are paid employees and participants may not receive a nationally recognized and/or portable credential. However, WBL initiatives are a valuable training activity that should be considered by states and employers.

Benefits for Employers

For employers, major benefits to apprenticeships include:

· Customized training tailored to industry specific needs resulting in skilled employees.

· Increased knowledge transfer between the on-the job-learning from a mentor in conjunction with education courses.

· Greater employee retention.

· Pipeline of stable and reliable qualified workers.

· Tax credits and other incentives, including potential access to funding and resources from federal programs.

· National industry recognition as a quality program.

· Industries who focus on safety training during apprenticeships can increase workplace safety among new employees leading to a reduction in workers compensation costs.

Benefits for States

Apprenticeships are not only beneficial for the employer and employee, but to entire state economies. For states, major benefits to apprenticeships include:

· Increased access to talent pools which can reduce the industry costs of turnover in a community.

· Reduced barriers to high skilled jobs, creating a workforce that can fill industry specific employment gaps.

· Decreased unemployment rates and an improved state economy.

· Increased earnings potential for workers; and as a result, an increase in spending capacity for workers and tax base for state governments.

· Models for state government apprenticeship programs that can help states attract and retain a skilled public workforce.

· Potential federal funding for apprenticeship expansion.

· The opportunity to attract new industries to states.

Funding Apprenticeships

Private sector apprenticeship programs are primarily financed by the employer, with state funding acting as an additional investment. Employers might pay wages and finance any classroom instruction, while state funding acts as a strong incentive for businesses to develop these programs. State funding can supplement apprenticeship programs by subsidizing wages, covering any credentialing costs, and providing resources for technical assistance.

Federal Fund opportunities are also available to assist states in the expansion of apprenticeship programs for public and private sector apprenticeships. The U.S. Department of Labor has announced federal funding awards totaling $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for educational institutions partnering with companies, with an additional $100 million for efforts to expand apprenticeships and close the skills gap. Recently the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration announced funding of over $42 Million in grant awards to increase youth participation in Registered Apprenticeships.

Events and Resources on Apprenticeships

There are many events and resources available for states, employers and job seekers to learn more about the benefits and how to engage in an apprenticeship program. Here are a few to get you started:

· The Council of State Governments is currently hosting the CSG2020 National Conference Reimagined. On October 28th, 2020, CSG partnered with the Urban Institute to host a virtual conversation on Utilizing Public Sector Apprenticeships to Improve Employment Outcomes. The session covered the benefits of civic sector and inclusive apprenticeships and shared case studies from Massachusetts and Ohio. View the session recording and transcript here. · In 2019, CSG published The Future of the Workforce: Approaches to Increasing Access and Inclusion report, in partnership with The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy’s State Exchange on Employment and Disability. The report serves as a

resource providing policy options and best practices to states focused on apprenticeship, automation and technology and the gig economy. The report highlighted the benefits to apprenticeships for private and public sector employers and how they can be pivotal in creation of the future workforce that is not limited to traditional trades but can also include health care, information technology, financial services and civil service.

· See our blog on Building Inclusive Apprenticeships: Upcoming Webinars Discuss Design and Funding Strategies discussing the benefits of inclusive apprenticeships and the AIM Research Brief Series. Read the blog here.

· Learn more about National Apprenticeship Week, events across the nation, and how to get started with an apprenticeship program at www.apprenticeship.gov

Industry-Led Apprenticeships Emerging as a Pathway to Employment

By Sydney Geiger

Apprenticeships are an avenue of education and training that allow people to receive valuable knowledge and job skills without attaining a college degree.

In June 2017, President Donald Trump released the Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America, which promotes the easing of regulatory burdens surrounding apprenticeship programs and encourages third-party development of apprenticeship programs. Allowing more businesses, nonprofits, labor-management organizations and professional associations to become certifiers of apprenticeship programs offers a new entryway to the workforce in a variety of fields. The purpose of the industry-recognized apprenticeship program, often referred to as IRAP, is to break down barriers in order to expand apprenticeship opportunities.

To qualify as a certifier of apprenticeship programs, non-government organizations will have to meet a variety of requirements including expertise in the sector, a paid work component, on-the-job training, and the ability to track progress and successes.

IRAP is unique because it allows industries to design their own guidelines and apprenticeship programs to best suit industry needs. Since IRAPs will be accredited by independent organizations, it allows the industry to gain recognition for hosting a high-quality program to attract new, skilled employees.

States have shown a strong interest in investing in apprenticeship programs. Washington reached a record of 18,947 citizens participating in apprenticeship programs in 2018. According to Matthew Erlich from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, the state has over 5,000 employers throughout more than 180 occupations offering apprenticeships. In 2018, Missouri invested over $3.5 million to develop and expand the state’s apprenticeship programs.

“The application process for Department of Labor’s Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP) accreditors, as well as for those sponsors interested participating in the IRAP program, have not yet started,” stated James Foti, a regional office of apprenticeship director for the Department of Labor. Although the program is still not underway, states are already showing an interest in being involved.

“We look forward to learning more about how the program will operate, but I can tell you that Ohio fully supports the implementation of the program,” said Bret Crow of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. North Carolina Apprenticeship Director Kathryn Castelloes said that North Carolina also plans to participate with IRAPs.

While the implementation and execution of IRAPs are not finalized, the overall message is clear: apprenticeships are an avenue for states to upskill their workforce to meet the needs of industries experiencing employee shortages. 

Kentucky Paves the Way for Public Sector Apprenticeships

By Sydney Geiger

Kentuckians work for the government at a rate slightly higher than the national average — 16.2%. Based on application trends, however, that percentage might decrease. According to a report from the National Association of State Chief Administrators, the number of applicants for state government jobs has decreased by 24% from 2013 through 2017.[1]

In 2018, Kentucky launched an innovative apprenticeship program to engage apprentices in the public sector. Former Education and Workforce Development Secretary Derek Ramsey led the project as a part of his larger apprenticeship efforts and to recruit talented workers to ensure a high-quality state workforce. Creating a strong public sector workforce is a priority for many states.

The recent CSG Future of the Workforce Report highlights the growth of apprenticeships nationwide. Both workers and employers benefit from apprenticeships. Workers (apprentices) benefit from earning money while learning through hands-on training and technical instruction. They also receive mentorship from the employer. Following the apprenticeship, workers often receive a nationally recognized credential, a career pathway with a competitive salary and little to no education debt. Additionally, employers benefit from the ability to create customized training and develop job-specific qualifications. Employers also benefit from enhanced retention, increased productivity and lower recruitment costs. 

Apprenticeships are also an opportunity to improve inclusivity. With the flexibility of creating apprenticeship programs, states can ensure that programs suit specific communities and populations in their state such as people with disabilities.

The Urban Institute published a report in 2019 highlighting Kentucky’s efforts.

The report examines four Kentucky public sector apprenticeship programs:

  1. Direct Support Specialist program administered by the Department of Community Based Services
  2.  Computer Support Specialist (Help Desk Technician) program administered by the Commonwealth Office of Technology
  3. Automotive Technician Specialist program administered by the Transportation Cabinet
  4. Office Administrative Services program administered by Barren County Government.

Urban Institute research includes the development, design, recruitment, operation, benefits and future plans of the apprenticeship programs.

Kentucky’s efforts were a great example of strategic partnerships across government agencies. The report highlights how, in order to develop these apprenticeships, the Education and Workforce Cabinet coordinated with the Personnel Cabinet to develop the positions within the state system. Leaders across the state, from apprenticeship coordinators to local technical education teachers, advocated for numerous offices to participate. According to the report, “Officials from the Personnel, Labor, and Education and Workforce Cabinets led discussions with state and local government staff to make the case for apprenticeship in their offices.”[2]

Secretary Ramsey stated at the launch of the DCBS Social Services apprenticeship pilot, “Simply put, apprenticeships within state government have the potential to bring important long-term cost savings to Kentucky taxpayers. Apprenticing social services positions at the DCBS is only the beginning for implementing this training model in other agencies.”[3]

The report concludes that Kentucky’s public sector apprenticeships have produced great success thus far and that other departments, such as the Department of Corrections and Veteran’s Affairs, are exploring apprenticeship opportunities. Other states will likely follow Kentucky’s lead.

[1] “Reimagine Today’s State Government Workforce” NASCA, 2019.

[2] “Leading by Example: Public Sector Apprenticeships in Kentucky” Urban Institute, 2019.

[3] “Kentucky Launches First-of-Its-Kind Apprenticeship Program for Social Services,” The Lane Report, 2018.  

Inclusive Apprenticeships: How States are Supporting Skills Training for People with Disabilities

By Elise Gurney

Apprenticeships are on the rise. Employers are increasingly turning to apprenticeships to build strong pipelines of talent, and states are investing in apprenticeships as important workforce development tools. Inclusive apprenticeships – that is, apprenticeships that provide skills training to people with disabilities – provide additional benefits. In particular, they can help employers and states increase the hiring and retention of people with disabilities. States are taking a number of approaches to make apprenticeship programs more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities.

Inclusion can be considered at various stages in the apprenticeship process. This includes:

(1)Developing Apprenticeships, to ensure that apprenticeship programs consider the unique strengths and needs of people with disabilities from the start;

(2)Preparing Apprentices, to ensure that people with disabilities have the proper skills and training to enter apprenticeship programs;

(3)Hiring Apprentices, to ensure that people with disabilities are targeted for and connected directly with apprenticeship opportunities;

(4)Supporting Apprentices, to ensure that apprentices with disabilities have access to the resources, supports, and protections they need to be successful.

Below are examples of where states have incorporated inclusion into each of these four stages of the apprenticeship process.

-Developing Apprenticeships

  • In order to develop accessible and inclusive apprenticeships from the start, states are incorporating voices and entities from the disability community – including Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies – into apprenticeship planning discussions and the development of apprenticeship grants.
    • California Assembly Bill 1019 amended Sections 3071.5 and 3073.3 of the California Labor Code to add the Director of Rehabilitation and the Executive Director of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities to California’s Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships, and to create a subcommittee focused on apprenticeships for the disability community. These efforts are collectively intended to “encourage greater participation for the disabled in apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.”
    • Wisconsin’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards collaborates with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and writes the Division into its grants, to ensure that a disability perspective is being incorporated into apprenticeship development.

-Preparing Apprentices

  • As part of their strategy to prepare people with disabilities for apprenticeships, states are increasingly turning toward pre-apprenticeships (which prepare individuals for entry into registered apprenticeship programs). In particular, states are designing pre-apprenticeship programs specifically for people with disabilities, targeting people with disabilities for those programs, and/or providing additional supports to ensure that people with disabilities are successful in their pre-apprenticeships.
    • Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation – in collaboration with other local government and private sector entities, including a community rehabilitation provider – developed a pre-apprenticeship program in the warehousing sector. Warehousing companies in the state have agreed to hire graduates of the pre-apprenticeship program, resulting in over 28 individuals with disabilities attaining registered apprenticeships.
    • New Jersey Senate Bill 688 proposes that pre-apprenticeships and school-to-apprenticeship linkage programs include training and services that help maximize program participation by individuals with disabilities. These services include counseling, life skills training, math and literacy training, and one-on-one tutoring.

-Hiring Apprentices

  • States have taken various approaches to support the recruitment and hiring of people with disabilities for apprenticeship programs. This includes connecting people with disabilities directly to apprenticeship opportunities and supporting them through the application process, as well as providing tax incentives to businesses that hire apprentices with disabilities.
    • Ohio’s Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) Vocational Apprentice Program collaborates with Ohio state agencies to identify their workforce needs and develop apprenticeship opportunities that align with the goals of students and adults with disabilities. The program assists participants throughout the application, interview, and onboarding processes.
    • New Jersey Senate Bill 1159 proposes to provide tax credits to businesses for each apprentice that they employ, and to provide additional incentives if those individuals are “underrepresented in that career field” based on a range of demographic characteristics, including disability.

-Supporting Apprentices

  • States have developed a range of resources and protections to support people with disabilities throughout their apprenticeships. This includes facilitating peer-to-peer mentoring, to help apprentices with disabilities navigate the challenges they face in the workplace and prohibiting discrimination against apprentices on the basis of their disability.
    • Michigan House Bill 4579 proposed the establishment of a peer-to-peer apprenticeship mentoring program for people with disabilities (along with other under-represented groups), to provide “mentoring and support services…and establish a network of peers involved in apprenticeship[s].”
    • Virginia House Bill 1252 amended and added to § 40.1-121 of the Code of Virginia, to prohibit sponsors of registered apprenticeship programs from discriminating against apprentices or apprentice applicants on the basis of disability (among other demographic characteristics).

Telework: Ensuring Inclusion During COVID-19 & Beyond

By Elise Gurney

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of Americans who work remotely has increased from roughly 15% to 50%. The transition to telework has required everyone to adjust, but it has posed unique challenges for some people with disabilities. On December 17th, The Council of State Governments’ (CSG) National Conference session, “Telework: Adapting to the COVID-19 Economy”  explored these challenges, and showcased strategies that state governments, local governments, and the private sector are using to accommodate employees with disabilities amid new telework conditions and beyond. The session also premiered CSG and the State Exchange on Employment & Disability’s new report “Disability-Inclusive Telework for States“.

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Disability Employment Etiquette National Conference Session

Individuals with disabilities bring unique talents, skills, and perspectives to the workplace. The benefits of including more individuals with disabilities in the workforce are numerous, including higher workplace morale, a more inclusive workplace culture, improved operational performance, productivity, creativity, and profitability, and a reduction in turnover, not to mention more financial stability and other benefits to the worker with disabilities. However, sometimes employers and policymakers may not be adequately tapping into this skilled pool of employees due to a lack of knowledge on how to engage and work with individuals with disabilities.

On Friday December 11, 2020 at 2pm ET, The Council of State Governments (CSG) will host a “Disability Employment Etiquette” session as part of the CSG 2020 National Conference REIMAGINED.

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California Proposition 22 Overturns Employee Classification for Rideshare and Delivery “Gig Workers“

By Dina Klimkina and Bobby Silverstein

On Nov. 3, roughly 58.6% of California residents voted to approve California Proposition 22, which classifies app-based drivers working for rideshare and delivery companies — like Uber and Lyft — as “independent contractors” instead of “employees.” Workers are only classified as employees if a company sets drivers’ hours, requires acceptance of specific ride or delivery requests or restricts working for other companies. Proposition 22 also requires rideshare and delivery companies to provide their drivers with certain minimum benefits and protections from discrimination.

Continue reading “California Proposition 22 Overturns Employee Classification for Rideshare and Delivery “Gig Workers“”


Currently, state and local policymakers are adopting and implementing policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy brief summarizes guidance issued by Federal Government agencies that can assist in ensuring state and local policy aligns with our nation’s civil rights laws and other disability-related policies.

These Federal Government agencies include the:                                                                      

Also included in this policy brief are resources developed by the Job Accommodation Network, Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, and Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology.

The State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED), an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), assists states in developing effective and inclusive workforce policies that promote disability employment. Recognizing that every state is unique, SEED offers policy options and resources states can tailor to meet their needs and goals. To this end, SEED partners with leading intermediary organizations that serve as trusted sources of information to state and local policymakers.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” which was last updated on September 8, 2020.

This resource addresses disability-related topics such as:

  • Disability-related inquiries and medical exams;
  • Confidentiality of medical information;
  • Hiring and onboarding;
  • Reasonable accommodation; and
  • Return to the workplace.

The guidance also addresses what an employer should know about COVID-19 and other equal employment opportunity laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

More specifically, with respect to the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, the guidance includes explanations relating to:

  • With respect to disability-related inquiries and medical exams:
    • Adopting screening protocols that are implemented consistent with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials regarding whether, when, or for whom testing or other screening is appropriate;
    • Requesting information from an employee who calls in sick, taking body temperatures of employees, and permitting viral tests to determine if an applicant or employee has an active case of COVID-19; and
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Interim Guidelines, not allowing employers to require antibody testing before permitting employees to re-enter the workplace.
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health authorities for their workplace
    • With respect to disability-related inquiries and medical exams:
    • Adopting screening protocols that are implemented consistent with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials regarding whether, when, or for whom testing or other screening is appropriate;
    • Requesting information from an employee who calls in sick, taking body temperatures of employees, and permitting viral tests to determine if an applicant or employee has an active case of COVID-19; and
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Interim Guidelines, not allowing employers to require antibody testing before permitting employees to re-enter the workplace.
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health authorities for their workplace.
  • With respect to confidentiality of medical information:
    • Maintaining all information about an employee’s illness related to COVID-19 as a confidential medical record; and
    • The fact that information related to COVID-19 is considered medical information does not prevent the manager from reporting to appropriate employer officials so that they can take action, consistent with guidance from CDC and other public health officials.
  • With respect to the provision of reasonable accommodations, examples (such as telework and modified protective gear) and explanations on how the ADA applies when an employer knows that an employee has a medical condition identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that might place him or her at “higher risk for severe illness” and is concerned that his or her health will be jeopardized upon returning to the workplace, but the employee has not requested an accommodation.
  • With respect to returning to the workplace, modifications or lifting of government stay-at-home orders and other restrictions in an employer’s area, inviting employees to request flexibility in advance of returning to the workplace, and employee screening (including alternative methods of screening) that is consistent with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health authorities for their workplace.

Pandemic Preparedness and the ADA

The EEOC updated its resource, “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” on March 21, 2020 in response to COVD-19. This guidance document provides background information on pandemics and ADA requirements and standards, and addresses topics such as disability-related inquiries and medical examinations; direct threat affirmative defense; and reasonable accommodations. The document also provides guidance for employers on requirements and restrictions before, during, and after a pandemic.

EEOC Webinar on COVID-19

On March 27, 2020, to supplement these documents, the EEOC posted a pre-recorded webinar addressing questions arising under any of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws and the COVID-19 pandemic. The video can be seen on YouTube. A transcript of the webinar is also available.

Additional Information

Additional information and updates from the EEOC are available on its Coronavirus and COVID-19 webpage.


People with Disabilities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance to people with disabilities through a dedicated webpage that identifies those who may be at increased risk of COVID-19, suggests precautions, and highlights several ways people with disabilities can prepare during the outbreak.

In addition, CDC issued the following guidance:

Employers and Businesses

CDC developed a Toolkit for Businesses and Workplaces (updated July 17, 2020). The Toolkit addresses frequently asked questions and provides guidance and planning documents, web resources, factsheets, and other resources.

On July 22, 2020, CDC updated SARS-CoV-2 Testing Strategy: Considerations for Non-Healthcare Workplaces. This document provides guidance on the appropriate use of testing and does not dictate the determination of payment decisions or insurance coverage of such testing, except as may be otherwise referenced (or prescribed) by another entity or federal or state agency.

On September 18, 2020, CDC updated Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), which includes a summary of considerations and current CDC recommendations regarding SARS-CoV-2 testing. Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this updated guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection.

On September 11, 2020, CDC updated guidance on Returning to Work, including considerations for returning to work and how to protect yourself and others in the workplace.

CDC issued specific guidance for employers titled Employers with Workers at High Risk, recognizing that as workplaces consider a gradual scale up of activities towards pre-COVID-19 operating practices, it is particularly important to keep in mind that some workers are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The CDC webpage, Resources for Businesses and Workplaces (updated September 2, 2020), includes three recorded conference calls, as well as guidance on deciding when to open, mitigation strategies, prevention and support, and more.

On October 21, 2020, CDC issued Investigating and Responding to COVID-19 Cases in Non-Healthcare Work Settings.

Healthcare Professionals

CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Healthcare Professionals webpage (updated August 16, 2020) provides an overview of what healthcare providers should know about COVID-19, as well as answers to frequently asked questions. The resource also addresses more specific topics, such as guidance for healthcare providers on COVID-19 and pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions; for public health personnel evaluating persons under investigation; for collection and submission of postmortem specimens; for clinical and home care; and more.

Health Care Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions (updated September 18, 2020) provides responses to questions asked by health care professionals, including recommendations on cleaning and disinfecting, visitation, animals, and more.

Using Telehealth Services (added June 10, 2020) describes the landscape of telehealth services and provide considerations for healthcare systems, practices, and providers using telehealth services to provide virtual care during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Work Restrictions for Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure to COVID-19 (added June 18, 2020) assists with assessment of risk, monitoring, and work restriction decisions for Healthcare Providers with potential exposure to COVID-19.

Interim Operational Considerations for Public Health Management of Healthcare Workers Exposed to or with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19: Non-U.S. Healthcare Settings (added September 12, 2020) are intended to be used by healthcare facilities and public health authorities in non-US healthcare settings, particularly focusing on low- and middle-income countries, assisting with the management of healthcare workers exposed to a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection (Interim Guidance) (updated August 10, 2020). Guidance for occupational health programs and public health officials making decisions about return to work for healthcare personnel with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

Additional CDC Guidance

Additional information and guidance from CDC are available on its Coronavirus Disease 2019 webpage. This website lists all CDC guidance in chronological order.


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website includes a special section identifying Coronavirus Resources, including the following: 

Workplace Safety

DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers resources to help employers and workers prepare for and respond to coronavirus in the workplace:

Wages, Hours and Leave

DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) provides information on common issues employers and workers face when responding to COVID-19, including the effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

On September 11, 2020, the WHD announced revisions to regulations that implement the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). According to the WHD, the revised rule clarifies workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities regarding FFCRA paid leave. The rule was issued in light of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York’s August 3, 2020, decision invalidating portions of the relevant regulations. The revisions allow WHD to enforce critical legal protections for millions of workers fully and fairly.

The Department issued its initial temporary rule implementing provisions under the FFCRA on April 1, 2020. Read the revised rule will take effect on September 16, 2020.

Additional guidance includes:

Unemployment Insurance Flexibilities

NOTE: Check with your state’s unemployment insurance program regarding the rules in your state.

On March 12, 2020, DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced new guidance outlining state flexibilities in administering their unemployment insurance programs to assist Americans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Under the guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where:

  • An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
  • An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
  • An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.

In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.

Federal Contractors

On March 18, 2020, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a National Interest Exemption to facilitate response efforts for COVID-19 to facilitate response efforts for COVID-19.

Support for Dislocated Workers and States

On March 18, 2020, DOL’s ETA announced the availability of up to $100 million in National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grants to help states, territories, and tribal governments respond to the workforce-related impacts of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Quick Employment Tips

DOL released a series of “COVID-19 Quick Employment Tips” videos on May 1, 2020. The first is on supporting workers’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and features the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion’s (EARN) Mental Health Toolkit. The second highlights resources and information on reasonable accommodations and COVID-19 from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

COVID-19 Quick Employment Tips: Mental Health

COVID-19 Quick Employment Tips: Reasonable Accommodations


Civil Rights and HIPAA

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR)  published a bulletin titled “Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019” on March 28, 2020 to help ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs. The bulletin explains that persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on the presence or absence of disabilities. Decisions by covered entities concerning whether an individual is a candidate for treatment should be based on an individualized assessment of the patient based on the best available objective medical evidence.

Additionally, government officials, health care providers, and covered entities should ensure all segments of the community are served by:

  • Providing effective communication with individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and visually impaired using qualified interpreters, picture boards, and other means;
  • Providing meaningful access to programs and information to individuals with limited English proficiency using qualified interpreters and through other means;
  • Making emergency messaging available in plain language and in languages prevalent in the affected area(s) and in multiple formats, such as audio, large print, and captioning, and ensuring that websites providing emergency-related information are accessible;
  • Addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities, including individuals with mobility impairments, individuals who use assistive devices or durable medical equipment, and individuals with immunosuppressed conditions including HIV/AIDS in emergency planning; and
  • Respecting requests for religious accommodations in treatment and access to clergy or faith practices as practicable.

HHS’s OCR resolved two complaints involving COVID-19 rationing and the ADA (OCR press releases for resolutions to OCR complaints in AL, PA, TN, and UT). OCR also resolved a complaint in Connecticut involving visitation rights for persons with disabilities in hospitals who require support personnel.

In addition, HHS issued a document titled “Crisis Standard of Care and Civil Rights Laws.” This document highlights language from HHS’s OCR, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and relevant laws that support the adherence to civil rights laws and disability rights laws in the application of Crisis Standards of Care during resource-constrained emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. On August 20, 2020, OCR resolved a case against Utah involving crisis standards of care.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) developed a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Partner Toolkit to help stakeholders stay informed on CMS and HHS materials available on the COVID-19. CMS also updated its COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Agencies (updated June 30, 2020).


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance on COVID-19 diagnostic testing about what may or may not be considered safe and accurate testing. In addition, FDA issued:


On April 9, 2020 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a Bulletin on civil rights titled, “Ensuring Civil Rights During the COVID-19 Response.” The Bulletin addresses topics such as:

  • Effective communication access;
  • Inclusive planning, response, and recovery;
  • Language and physical accessibility;
  • Civil rights complaints; and
  • Additional resources.

FEMA hosted a two-part webinar series on how to create effective, accessible communications throughout the disaster cycle:


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued Frequently Asked Questions From FTA Grantees Regarding Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), including specific questions regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


The Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Eric S. Dreiband issued a statement titled “Protecting Civil Rights While Responding to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” The statement was issued to ensure that victims of illegal discrimination know where to turn if their civil rights are violated.


The Job Accommodation Network’s (JAN) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) webpage highlights strategies that employers covered by the ADA should keep in mind when dealing with communicable diseases such as COVID-19 in the workplace.

Accommodation Strategies for Returning to Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic

JAN published a blog post “Accommodation Strategies for Returning to Work During the COCID-19 Pandemic.” In this blog, JAN offers general strategies for accommodating employees with disabilities to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ADA and Reasonable Accommodations

JAN published a blog post, “The ADA and Managing Reasonable Accommodation Requests from Employees with Disabilities in Response to COVID-19” that addresses topics such as employer requirements around providing reasonable accommodations under the ADA in response to the pandemic coronavirus situation; who can receive reasonable accommodations under the ADA; and disability-related documentation for accommodation requests related to reducing risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Stress and Mental Health Conditions

Another JAN blog post, “Coronavirus (COVID-19), Stress, and Mental Health Conditions,” recognizes that temporary accommodations may help all employees who are feeling increased stress and facing personal difficulties at this time, and provides information on the ADA and the coronavirus, and accommodation compliance.

Recent articles by JAN concerning COVID-19 and reasonable accommodations include:


In August 2020, The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion’s (EARN) developed a policy brief “COVID-19 and Job Applicants and Employees with Disabilities: Emerging Practices to Employ and Protect Workers.” The policy brief highlights emerging practices that employers may use as workers return to the workplace during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in ways that facilitate equal employment opportunity for qualified individuals with disabilities and protect the health and safety of all employees.

The EARN March/April Newsletter Special Edition on COVID-19 provides resources that can assist employers and others in understanding the intersection between the pandemic and disability employment policies and practices. 

On April 1, 2020, EARN hosted a webinar titled, “The ADA at Work: Considerations for COVID-19” to discuss balancing guidance on COVID-19 containment from CDC with EEOC guidance on the ADA. Guest experts from two regional ADA Centers presented on the implications of the pandemic on disability-related inquiries, medical examinations, and interpreting direct threat. Reasonable accommodations for telework, requests for which have spiked due to the required social distancing period, was also discussed.


The Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) developed a webpage on Telework and Accessibility, which highlights resources to help equip employers with the information needed to ensure the digital workplace is accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

Telework and Accessibility

Many employers and employees have shifted to telework. PEAT developed a toolkit to help with the transition to ensure employers’ digital communications and platforms are as accessible as possible for everyone, including people with disabilities. This suite of resources offers information on creating accessible content, hosting accessible meetings and presentations, recruiting and hiring best practices, tips for teleworkers, and more.