Bracelets are the new face masks (and other Need to Knows)

In a chamber survey conducted at the end of May, nearly one out of four businesses in our region told us vaccines would be mandatory for their employees.
 
About 40 percent said vaccines won't be required. The rest were undecided or unsure.
 
Perhaps this will sway some of those undecideds: A different survey conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting found that nearly 60 percent of workers in Greater Boston want their boss to make vaccines mandatory.
 
That same study found that 45 percent of respondents want their nonvaccinated colleagues to stay clear of the workplace.
 
At the same time, 56 percent of workers said their unvaccinated coworkers should not get special treatment to work from home, reports Anissa Gardizy at the Globe.

 
And did you know there’s a tax credit too?
 
Even where it's not mandatory, many business owners are doing all they can otherwise to encourage their teams to get vaccinated.
 
But few have been pursuing newly available tax credits for providing paid time off for workers to get their shots, reports Ty West for the Business Journals.
 
Employers can take tax credits for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave equal to the employee’s regular wage, capped at $511 per day up to $5,110, for employees who were sick or quarantining, awaiting the results of a COVID test, or obtaining or recovering from a vaccine.
 
The tax credits apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees IRS guidelines are here. 

 
So what’s an employer to do?
 
But what are the legal and practical implications of mandatory vaccines in your workplace?
 
Join us at noon today (Tues.) via Zoom for a discussion with Joe Lazazzero at Littler Mendelson, PC.
 
Lazazzero’s 30 minute presentation will discuss the implications under state and federal law, including HIPPA, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as wage and hour considerations.
 

 
There's no v in teams
 
One last thought about workplace vaccines: Can we just acknowledge how embarrassing is it that we live in a state with one of the best in the nation vaccine rates but a professional baseball team that's one of the last in the major leagues to achieve MLB’s fully vaccinated status?
 
The same may be true for the Pats too.
 
Would a $25 gift card to Market Basket help?
 
I’m surprised this isn’t a bigger story.
 
 
They'll pay you $12.5 K to buy a house in Newton (whoops, wrong Newton)
 
As if local employers weren’t challenged enough bringing workers back to the office, now they have a new form of competition: Other municipalities. 
  • Tulsa is offering $10,000 in cash grants, free desk space and exclusive perks for remote workers willing to move to the city.
  • Morgantown, West Virginia, is offering $12,000 in cash grants, a free year of outdoor recreational activities, gear rentals and free co-working space.
  • Montpelier, Vermont, is offering $5,000 per year for up to two years for remote workers.
  • And Newton, Iowa is offering $12,500 in incentives when you buy a new home there.
 

 
If you can get paid to leave the state, do we really want a millionaires’ tax?
 
The Massachusetts House and Senate will vote tomorrow (Weds.) on placing the so-called Fair Share amendment, or millionaires’ tax, on the November 2022 ballot.
 
Fair Share would add a 4 percentage-point income surtax on household income over $1 million.
 
But at a time when remote workers and businesses are being offered cash to move out of state, is this really the time to be considering a millionaire’s tax in Massachusetts?
 
How about the fact that the state is currently flush with much higher-than-expected tax revenues and sitting on $5.3 billion in federal COVID aid?
 
Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth explores both sides of the debate.
 
Meanwhile, more than 150 companies from across the state sent a letter yesterday urging officials to refrain from putting the Fair Share Act on the ballot.
 
 
Note: The chamber’s Board of Directors does not yet have a position on the Fair Share Act. We’d be interested in your thoughts.
 
 
For your calendar
 
  • The MBTA will present an overview of its Bus Network Redesign plan, an initiative to re-imagine the MBTA’s bus network, via Zoom tonight (Tues.) at 6 p.m. Register.
  • The Needham Farmers Market's 10th anniversary this season begins this Sunday (June 13) from noon to 4 p.m. and continuing until Thanksgiving.
 
 
Looking to hire building contractors of color but don’t know where to turn?
 
A new group called the Builders of Color Coalition has just launched the Boston Minority Real Estate Directory, a subscription-only listing of 500+ real estate professionals of color across the region.
 
Dave Madan, the group’s founder and chair, explains his group’s mission in this Globe oped.
 
 
Mass Pike lane closures in our future
 
Are you ready for two years of a narrower Mass Pike?
 
The elevated section of the Massachusetts Turnpike between Boston University and the Charles River is deteriorating at an exponential rate.
 
A $75 million dollar repair job is expected to begin late next year.
 
The initial work will be beneath the roadway itself. But after that two years of surface work with lane closures will be needed on nights and on weekends, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth.
 
But former transportation secretary Fred Salvucci says that's enough. He believes state officials should consider reducing the number of lanes on the Pike now to reduce weight and stress on the structure.
 
 
Share your 2-cents about Newton’s village centers
 
The City of Newton is looking for input from business owners and workers about the future of the city’s village centers to inform zoning decisions.
 
Fill out this form if you’re interested in participating in a business survey or future focus groups for small business/property owners, real estate brokers and consultants, and mixed-use and small scale commercial developers.
 
Learn more here.
 
 
Color-coded bracelets are the new face mask
 
Are you red, yellow or green?
 
As we return to offices, restaurants, gyms and, pretty soon, in-person chamber networking events (true!), not everyone is in the same place when it comes to personal contact.
 
That’s sparked the rise of the latest pandemic-era accessory: Red, yellow and green bracelets that signal your boundaries, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Jennifer Levitz.
 
  • Red means “no contact” with “no exceptions.”
  • Yellow means “elbow only,” as in stick to the elbow bump, pal.
  • As for green: Handshakes and hugs welcome.
 
One wedding planner says her clients like color-coded wristbands as a way to avoid “that uncomfortable conversation with Aunt Judy at the bar.”
 
“Though I will say that once a few drinks get poured, all bets are off and everyone is hugging anyway,” she says.
 
That’s today’s Need to Knows, unless you need to know which GPS app the driver of an SUV blames for leading him onto the sixth hole at Brae Burn Country Club.
 
See you Wednesday!
 
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
 
Your chamber is here when you need us.

P.S. Thanks to the Needham Channel for its coverage of our Welcome Back campaign
 

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