On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced a new COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all businesses with 100+ employees to require vaccinations or be subject to weekly testing. Health facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding are also required to have vaccinated workforces.
President Biden also signed an Executive Order for federal staff to no longer opt out of vaccination by simply being tested regularly. These employees must be inoculated or face disciplinary measures.
When does the vaccine mandate take effect for private employers?
Under the Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently writing the rule that should also outline compliance measures. We won’t know details about timing until the rule is written, but there will be an emergency temporary standard for implementing the vaccination mandate.
As part of the requirement, companies must provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects of vaccination.
How often must unvaccinated employees be tested?
Unvaccinated employees who work for companies with 100+ workers must be tested for COVID-19 at least once a week, per this new requirement.
Is this vaccine and testing requirement only for on-site employees?
The language says unvaccinated employees must “produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work.” This seems to imply that remote employees may be exempt from the requirement, but that exemption wouldn’t help boost the number of individuals being vaccinated to help gain control of COVID-19, which is the purpose behind this requirement. This question and more will likely be addressed in OSHA’s written rule.
What is the penalty for a company’s non-compliance?
Businesses that ignore the policy may be penalized up to $14,000 per violation, whereas healthcare organizations may have federal funds withheld for non-compliance.
What is the penalty for employees’ non-compliance?
Employees may be subject to disciplinary action for non-compliance, up to and including termination.
Are there any exemptions to this policy?
While OSHA is in the process of writing the rule, the only anticipated exemptions to this policy are those with approved medical or religious accommodations or those that have specific language in their labor/employment contract.
When does the vaccine mandate take effect for federal employers?
All federal employees and employees of contractors that do business with the government must receive the COVID-19 vaccine within 75 days of signing this Executive Order, which is November 23, 2021.
How should my company comply with this order?
While we await details from OSHA, your business may want to begin outlining its protocol of asking for vaccination status and implementing regular COVID-19 testing. As we continue to navigate this requirement, please contact your Stratus.hr HR Consultant for best practices standards and guidance with compliance.
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