On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced a new six-pronged strategy to contain the spread of COVID-19. Most notable are plans for broad COVID-19 vaccination and/or testing mandates that could apply to as many as 100 million employees nationwide. Highlights of the plan are discussed below.
Vaccination and/or Testing Requirements for Employers with 100+ Employees
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to either ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. OSHA will also require that these employers provide paid time off to employees in order to get vaccinated.
OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) to implement this requirement in coming weeks. If employers do not comply, OSHA will take enforcement action, which could include fines up to $14,000 per violation.
Vaccination Requirements for Federal Workers and Federal Contractors
The President has signed an Executive Order directing that all federal executive branch workers be vaccinated and requiring all employers who contract with the Federal Government to mandate vaccination against COVID-19 for their workforce. The Executive Order eliminates the option of weekly testing for the affected employees.
Vaccination Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Service Providers
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is requiring COVID-19 vaccination mandates for most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds. This requirement will impact hospitals, ambulatory surgical settings, home health agencies and other medical providers.
For now, President Biden’s announcement leaves many questions unanswered, and the above is only a brief synopsis of the newly announced mandates.