New risk alert provides recommendations on mask-wearing at credit unions

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that effective Wednesday, May 19, New York State would adopt CDC guidance regarding mask-wearing standards resulted in credit unions across the state reviewing their pandemic-related policies.

In a risk alert released on Tuesday, CUNA Mutual Group addressed common questions about mask-wearing at credit unions, along with risk mitigation tips.

The risk alert stated that:

  • Credit unions can consider relaxing requirements assuming they are allowed to while following the laws and regulations in the states where they have branches. Also, consider the potential effect it may have on staff if they are not vaccinated.
  • Employees can be asked if they are vaccinated, but avoid gathering additional information related to a medical condition. For those that answer no, do not ask why they haven’t been vaccinated. Determining the percentage of staff that is fully vaccinated may assist in the next course of action.
  • Vaccinated employees returning to the workplace may feel a sense of comfort by continuing to wear a mask, so wearing masks should be allowed and assumptions should not be made that those wearing masks are not vaccinated.
  • Members and visitors can be required to wear masks, but the new recommendations put businesses in a tricky position, and it may be easier to continue to require masks for the time being. Not only do you have to keep track of mask ordinances, but you’ll have to figure out how to accommodate a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people safely.
  • Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms can refrain from routine screening, testing and quarantining.

The risk alert also provided the following risk mitigation steps that credit unions should consider:

  • check with federal, states (in which you have branches), local, tribal, or territorial laws regarding  the wearing of masks and evaluate all new guidance and adapt your plans and policies with any relevant  changes;
  • consider determining the percentage of your staff that is vaccinated keeping in mind confidentiality/privacy  issues, the Americans with Disabilities Act and anti-discrimination laws;
  • consider the spacing environment at branches;
  • consider maintaining a mask policy to avoid discriminating against unvaccinated employees;
  • reinforce that employees must respect employee and member decision to wear masks and consider engaging in physical distancing regardless of the vaccination status;
  • adopt a formal policy or issue a communication clarifying the credit union’s policy and position on these issues so that everyone  knows your expectations; and
  • monitor the CDC as well as federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws for changes since this is interim and subject to change.

CUNA Mutual Group’s risk alerts may be accessed on their Protection Resource Center. Log-in is required.

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