On Thursday, September 9, 2021, President Biden announced his new COVID-19 plan entitled “Path out of the Pandemic” (Plan). While this Plan includes several provisions, this e-alert highlights a few of those of most interest to employers:
- OSHA was directed to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). This ETS will require private sector employers with at least 100 employees to ensure that their workforces are fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID at least weekly. Employers will be required to provide paid time off to employees for getting the vaccine and for recovering from any side effects. We are not aware of any deadline provided to OSHA but covered employers should prepare now for the ETS. We will provide an update to this E-Alert as soon as the ETS is issued.
- Biden also signed two executive orders that affect executive branch employees and federal contractor employees:
Executive Branch Order – This order amends the July 2021 order that required certain federal government employees to either get the vaccine or undergo testing. This new executive order, which applies to executive branch employees, eliminates the testing option. Now all covered federal employees must get vaccinated unless they have been given an exemption for a sincerely held religious belief or a disability.
Federal Contractor Order – This executive order directs The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force to issue guidance to federal contractors by September 24 regarding a vaccine mandate. Like the Executive Branch Order, there will be no testing option.
- The Plan also requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mandate the vaccine for a large number of health care providers. Previously, Biden had limited the mandate to nursing homes.
- The Plan requests large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccinations or a negative test result be provided before attendees can enter the building.
One of the most complex issues is whether companies will fall within the definition of “federal contractor” for purposes of mandating the vaccine versus the option of offering weekly testing. If you need assistance with understanding how that provision may affect your organization—or any other questions about this new mandate—please do not hesitate to contact us!!!
The content in the following blog posts is based upon the state of the law at the time of its original publication. As legal developments change quickly, the content in these blog posts may not remain accurate as laws change over time. None of the information contained in these publications is intended as legal advice or opinion relative to specific matters, facts, situations, or issues. You should not act upon the information in these blog posts without discussing your specific situation with legal counsel.
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