President Biden to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines or Weekly Testing

On Thursday September 9th, President Joe Biden announced sweeping new vaccine requirements for the federal workforce and large private sector employees.  President Biden plans to use regulatory powers and other actions to increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements.

A rule is being developed by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that will require all private employers with 100 or more employees to be responsible for maintaining a fully vaccinated workplace.  Unvaccinated workers will be subject to regular COVID testing and must test negative at least once weekly in order to be present in the workplace.  

OSHA will implement the rule by issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which gives OSHA the authority to enforce the rule for at least six months without going through the normal rulemaking process.  Those who don’t comply with the rule could face penalties of up to $14,000 per violation.  An effective date has not yet been announced, but OSHA will give employers sufficient time to ensure that employees can receive vaccinations in order to comply.

President Biden has also signed an executive order requiring all federal executive branch employees to be vaccinated and has extended this requirement to contractors that do business with the federal government.  Weekly testing is not an option to vaccination for these employees.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is expanding its existing mandatory vaccination requirements to cover almost all workers in health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements.  These expanded requirements will apply to over 50,000 providers.

In order to facilitate implementation of the rule, OSHA is requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to provide paid time off for time spent receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or recovering from vaccine-related illness.  

Employers with 100 or more employees should start acting now to ensure compliance by the upcoming effective date and avoid hefty fines.  myHRcounsel offers our clients a mandatory vaccine policy that can be used to educate your workers of the new mandate and obtain their acknowledgment and agreement to comply.  Contact myHRcounsel for a vaccine policy, and with all your vaccine-related questions.

Once the final rule is announced, we will host a webinar explaining the key details of the rule. As the rule has not been announced yet, the date for the webinar may change. Pre-register today!