President Joe Biden announced on September 9 that the federal government will require companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or test negative for COVID-19 at least once a week. The new requirements will be issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) in the coming weeks.
It is expected that OSHA will give employers a limited time to get their employees vaccinated after the standard becomes effective or be subject to fines of up to $14,000 per violation. Employers will also be required to provide employees time off to get vaccinated and to recover from any vaccine side effects.
The President’s announcement also included other mandates and changes for federal workers and contractors who do business with the federal government. Those changes include that all executive branch employees and federal contractors be vaccinated; vaccination requirements for health care providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid funding; vaccination requirements for staff at Head Start and Early Head Start programs; and vaccination requirements for teachers and staff at Department of Defense schools.
In addition to vaccination requirements, the Biden administration announced new fines for airline passengers who refuse to adhere to mitigation requirements, plans to increase the public supply of virus tests, additional federal support to assist schools in safely operating, and called for large entertainment venues and arenas to require vaccinations or proof of a negative test for entry.
Currently, many details are still unknown about the implementation of these changes. However, employers can start to prepare for their impact by gathering data on the percentage of their employees who are vaccinated and further encouraging those who are unvaccinated to consider vaccination.
The Labor and Employment lawyers at Coolidge Wall will post additional analysis and information updates on other federal and state developments related to the coronavirus outbreak. Should you have specific questions, please contact us.