On September 9, President Joe Biden announced his COVID-19 Action Plan. The Plan, which includes two new Executive Orders to combat COVID-19 and the Delta variant, would require many employers to mandate that its employees be vaccinated. The mandates will not go into effect until government agencies issue regulations that more clearly explain the requirements. Potentially impacted employers should stay tuned for the upcoming regulations, prepare their workforce and policies for the impending requirements, and continue to monitor the legal landscape.
President Biden issued an Executive Order requiring federal government employees to be fully vaccinated by November 22, 2021, subject to exceptions as required by law (such as medical and religious reasons).
President Biden issued another Executive Order requiring all government contracts, subcontracts, extensions, and renewals issued after October 15, 2021, to include language requiring compliance with guidance to be published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, which would include vaccine requirements for employees. The Task Force is set to publish guidance defining contractors, explaining safety protocols, and outlining exceptions by September 24, 2021, which must then be approved by the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Private Employers with 100 or More Employees
The broadest component of President Biden’s Action Plan included an announcement that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been tasked with developing a rule that will require all private employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated. Any employees who remain unvaccinated would be required to test negative for COVID-19 on a weekly basis to continue coming to work. In addition, all private employers with 100 or more employees would be required to provide employees with paid time off to receive the vaccine and recover from the vaccine’s side effects. OSHA is expected to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to carry out this instruction in the coming weeks.
President Biden’s earlier Executive Order, issued on August 18, 2021, instructed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue regulations requiring staff vaccinations in Medicare and Medicaid-participating nursing homes. As a part of the Biden administration’s Action Plan, CMS announced that it will expand the planned regulations to include all Medicare and Medicaid-participating facilities, such as hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies, among others. CMS expects to issue the new regulations regarding staff vaccination requirements for all Medicare and Medicaid-participating facilities in October.