Biden Announces New Measures for Employees in His Efforts to Increase Vaccination Rates
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States, President Biden announced new measures in his fight to get more Americans vaccinated affecting about 100 million workers in the United States.
The most significant of these orders is President Biden’s plan for a rule requiring any employers, including private sector employers, with 100 or more employees to require their employees to be either vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. The rule will be issued by the federal Department of Labor’s Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) and will affect over 80 million employees in the country. The affected employers will be required to provide time off to employees who need to be vaccinated or who may need time off to recover from any vaccination side effects. The rule is expected to be an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”).
The President also announced that he signed executive orders that require most federal employees and federal contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This group has approximately 75 days from the date of the executive order to ensure they are in compliance. Importantly, unlike the rule planned for private employers, federal employees and federal contractors do not have the option of weekly testing as an alternative to vaccination. The only exemptions to the order are those who have disabilities or who refuse to be vaccinated based on valid religious grounds.
Lastly, the President also signed an order that will require most health care workers in the country to be vaccinated. Any health care workers in organizations that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements are covered, affecting about 17 million health care workers and about 50,000 providers.
There is some resistance to these latest measures. We will keep you apprised of any developments of challenges to these new vaccination mandates as well as any new vaccination mandates that may impact smaller private companies in the future.
If you have any questions regarding the issues discussed above, or if you have any other Labor & Employment Law concerns, please contact the Underberg & Kessler attorney who regularly handles your legal matters or Alina Nadir, the author of this piece, here or at (585) 258-2805.