This post was updated on September 14, 2021.
On September 8, 2021, President Biden issued a COVID-19 Action Plan concerning new vaccine mandates that may affect 100 million Americans.
Large Private Employers and Paid Time Off to Get Vaccinated
According to the Plan, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all private employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any employees who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. The Plan states that OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement, but no specific date was stated.
Also, according to the Plan, OSHA is developing a rule that will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for employees to get vaccinated or to recover if they are under the weather post-vaccination. This requirement will also be implemented through the ETS, but no specific date was stated. Officials stated that the penalty for violating these requirements is up to $14,000 per violation.
Federal Employees and Contractors
According to the Plan, President Biden has signed two Executive Order that vaccine mandates for all executive branch employees and for employees of some federal contractors. Previously, the administration had only vaccine mandates within the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the National Institutes of Health. The White House has indicated that while religious and medical exemptions may be approved on a restricted basis, federal employees who do not qualify for such exemptions will have 75 days to get fully vaccinated.
The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) will issue guidance on the vaccine mandate for federal contractors by September 24, 2021. Although it is currently unclear what is going to be required of federal contractors, the Executive Order for federal contractors states that the requirements established by the Task Force will apply to any workplace locations (as specified by the Task Force) in which an individual is working on or in connection with a federal government contract or contract-like instrument.
Health Care Workers
According to the Plan, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action to require vaccines for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including but not limited to hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies. This action builds on the vaccination requirement for nursing facilities recently announced by CMS, and will apply to nursing home staff, hospital staff and other CMS-regulated settings, including clinical staff, individuals providing services under arrangements, volunteers, and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care.
For additional information on this or any related topic, please contact any of the KDDK labor and employment law professionals.