On September 9, President Biden announced his six-part plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and Delta variant. Among these six points include vaccine mandates for employers with 100+ employees. Here, a look at Biden’s plan and what employers need to know regarding the new vaccine mandates.
All employers with 100+ employees must ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.
The Biden administration has directed the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a rule requiring all employers with more than 100 workers to introduce regular weekly testing or mandate the COVID-19 vaccine through an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).
A senior White House official has been quoted as suggesting that any business that does not comply with the new rules could face up to $14,000 in fines per violation; however, whether this ultimately becomes part of the OSHA rules remains to be seen. Companies will have to pay for the testing, but could be allowed to pass the cost on to their employees.
The mandatory vaccine or weekly testing will be implemented and enforced through OSHA’s ETS; however, no regulations have been released yet, which means there are no compliance dates as of this writing. When the ETS is released, it will most likely include similar guidance as the COVID-19 healthcare ETS that became effective this past June. The ETS will most likely supply fact sheets and summaries about the rule as well as implementation presentations and checklists. As for enforcement, OSHA will need to provide inspection procedures to establish uniform enforcement for employers.
OSHA is developing a rule requiring employees to be offered paid time off for vaccination and to recover if they are under the weather post-vaccination.
While earlier this year New York implemented up to four hours of paid leave to receive the COVID-19 vaccine (see DOL details here), OSHA will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they are under the weather post-vaccination. This requirement will be implemented through the ETS as well and the details remain to be seen.
Lastly, the plan requires the vaccine for healthcare workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospital and healthcare settings.
This action builds on the vaccination requirement for nursing facilities and will apply to nursing home staff as well as staff in hospitals around the country. This includes clinical staff, volunteers, and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care.
CMM will continue to provide updates on the implementation of the “Path out of the Pandemic” plan. If you have questions on the new vaccine or testing mandate, please contact us.