By: Samantha J. Wood
Yesterday, President Biden announced new COVID-19 mandates affecting private employers with 100 or more employees, federal workers and contractors, and health care facilities.
First, it was announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) will develop a new Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”), which will mandate that all employers with 100 or more employees must require their employees to become “fully vaccinated” or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Employers will be required to give employees paid time off to get the vaccine or to recover from any side effects of the vaccine. OSHA plans to publish this ETS in the coming weeks and it will take effect shortly thereafter. Employers who do not comply risk fines up to $14,000 per violation.
In addition, President Biden has issued an Executive Order that requires all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, with exceptions for those with religious reasons or disabilities. Federal employees and contractors will have approximately 75 days from the date of the executive order to become fully vaccinated. This new Executive Order applies to all federal contractors and any subcontractors (at any tier) and requires contractors to comply with any guidance published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. New guidance related to COVID-19 is expected from this Task Force by September 24, 2021. The Executive Order applies to any new contract and the extension or renewal of an existing contract, and does not apply to grants, certain contracts or agreements with Indian Tribes, subcontracts solely for the provision of products, employees who perform work outside the United States, or to contracts (or subcontracts) whose value is equal to or less than the simplified acquisition threshold, as that term is defined in section 2.101 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
President Biden also expanded the vaccine requirements for health care workers, mandating vaccinations for health care providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid funding.
Employers should keep abreast of these changes and begin preparing for the new requirements. We will be providing continuing updates as we learn more about the new directives.