A Message from Virginia Chamber President & CEO, Barry DuVal

On July 15, the Safety and Health Codes Board of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry adopted an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), as directed by Governor Northam, that mandates additional requirements for Virginia employers related to workplace safety due to COVID-19. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Department of Labor and Industry to express concern about the impact many of the included provisions would have on business throughout the Commonwealth. 

The Safety and Health Codes Board is now considering making this burdensome regulation permanent and the Virginia Chamber has submitted this letter to build on the concerns we previously submitted. The policies adopted in the ETS provide very limited flexibility, contain several inconsistencies with state and federal regulations, and provides no safe harbor protections for employers who follow CDC and OSHA guidance. If made permanent, this standard will continue to negatively impact businesses around the Commonwealth and I encourage members of the business community to submit public comments today. 

The Safety and Health Codes Board will host a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, September 30 to consider the proposed permanent standard and members of the public are invited to provide comments. Those interested in providing comments during the town hall must email Princy.Doss@doli.virginia.gov by 5:00 PM on September 29, 2020.

The Dominion Energy Small Business EnergyShare Relief Program is still accepting applications to bring relief to small businesses in the Commonwealth. Dominion Energy Virginia has pledged $500,000 to help provide energy bill relief for small businesses, nonprofits, and houses of worship in its Virginia service territory. The program funding will be covered by shareholders and will not impact customer rates. Qualified businesses may be eligible to receive one-time assistance with their past due Dominion Energy electric bill balances up to $1,000. The Virginia Chamber Foundation is proud to partner with Dominion Energy on this important program and I encourage small businesses to visit our website to learn more information and apply today. More information can be found here. 

As the global pandemic continues to impact the Commonwealth and nation, I have been impressed by the resiliency of our business community. Your significant efforts to prioritize the health and safety of our citizens is vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19. The Virginia Chamber will continue to serve as a resource for businesses and I encourage you to visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for the most up-to-date information. 

Best regards,
Barry DuVal

Joint Statement Encouraging Virginians to Get a Flu Shot
As Virginia prepares for the coming flu season, hospitals and health care providers and organizations representing state and local government, businesses, educators, and many other stakeholders and communities of interest in the Commonwealth have joined together to issue this statement to promote the importance of getting a flu shot – now, more than ever, during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

To support this effort, Lyft, the ride-sharing company, is offering ride credits for people traveling to get a flu shot. Virginians can use the code VAFIGHTSFLU for rides to and from vaccination sites. Ride credits will be available until Dec. 31, 2020 and additional terms may apply.

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce is proud to have signed onto this initiative and continues to encourage citizens from around the Commonwealth to get the Influenza Vaccination.

Read the full joint statement here.

Virginia529 Private Retirement Market Survey to Virginia Employers

Virginia529 is surveying Virginians to gauge the level of interest in participating in a state facilitated private retirement option. Your opinion is very important to us and will be represented as part of the market survey of employers in the Commonwealth 

Click Here to Participate

Background: Pursuant to Chapter 506 of the Virginia Acts of Assembly, the Virginia College Savings Plan (“Virginia529”) has been directed to study programs that encourage Virginians to save for retirement and to recommend potential solutions.   

According to a 2018 retirement savings study published by the Christopher Newport University Wason Center for Public Policy, 53% of all employees in Virginia lack a retirement plan. Of this population, 84% do not have a retirement plan because their employer does not offer one. An earlier study conducted by the Virginia Retirement System suggested a work-based retirement option tends to be an effective method of encouraging savings, particularly among those who are not currently covered under an employer-sponsored plan. As of September 2020, thirteen states offer state-facilitated private retirement options for employers who do not currently offer a retirement savings option. Virginia529 will examine existing programs, provide an assessment of model options, present employer and employee perspectives on the plan concept, assess start up and feasibility costs and deliver a final report of findings and recommendations to the General Assembly no later than December 15th, 2020.    

Coming Soon: A dedicated website featuring more information about the study progress, our upcoming webinar schedule and useful resources and links.   

Virginia Launches First-In-Nation COVIDWISE App

Using Bluetooth Low Energy technology developed by Apple and Google COVIDWISE notifies users who have likely been exposed to reduce the risk of infection and help Virginia stop the spread. COVIDWISE does not rely on personal information or location data and participation is on a completely voluntary basis. 

How It Works (Taken Directly from https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covidwise/)

  • Download the free app from the iPhone App Store or Android Google Play Store.
  • Once you opt-in to the notification system, the Exposure Notifications System will generate an anonymous token for your device. To help ensure these anonymous tokens can’t be used to identify you or your location, they change every 10-20 minutes.
  • Your phone and the phones around you will work in the background, without draining your battery or data, to exchange these privacy-preserving anonymous tokens via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. This is a passive process that begins once you opt-in and functions without the app open.
  • On a daily basis, your phone downloads a list of all the anonymous tokens associated with positive COVID-19 cases and checks them against the list of anonymous tokens it has encountered in the last 14 days.
  • If there’s a match, the app will notify you with further instructions from your public health authority on how to keep you and the people around you safe.

Learn more information here.

Virginia Employer Survey – VDOT & DRPT

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) are conducting a survey of businesses in Virginia to understand how businesses changed their worksite operations and what their plans are for returning to the office, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. VDOT and DRPT want to learn about businesses’ experience with employee telework before COVID-19, during the pandemic, and plans for future operations. Additionally, they would like to know about businesses’ policies regarding commuter incentives and work environment.

Please pass along the following survey link to businesses representatives in your organization: https://vaemployersurvey.metroquest.com/

The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and there is an option to leave contact information for future surveys and for assistance from DRPT’s Telework!VA program that provides free assistance to Virginia’s businesses to formalize or improve telework/work-from-home programs.