Biden Administration Mandates Vaccination or Testing for Most Employees
On September 9, 2021, the Biden administration announced that the federal government will require employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that those employees are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or test negative for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. The federal government will also require that most federal workers, federal contractors, and healthcare workers be vaccinated, without the option to test.
The DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with promulgating rules to provide authority for this mandate as well as additional details. As a first step, OSHA is expected to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that will stand until formal rules are issued. The ETS is expected to provide the authority for the mandate and to require employers to provide paid leave to employees who need to get vaccinated or recover from any side-effects of the vaccination. OSHA is expected to release the ETS in the next few weeks.
Unfortunately, there are still many unanswered questions. For instance, it is not known how testing will be paid for, how the paid leave should be administered, and how penalties for noncompliance will be calculated. For further discussion, please check out episode 109 of our podcast entitled “Biden’s Vaccine Mandates & Testing Alternatives.” Employers should consult with legal counsel about their obligations to comply with these regulations once they are issued.
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