September 10, 2021
By Anne E. Baggott
In a significant move to curb the global pandemic, President Joe Biden announced yesterday that he will issue executive orders requiring a broad swath of private-sector employers to mandate their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. The order is estimated to impact more than 80 million workers.
The executive order will direct the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement a requirement that employers with 100 or more workers mandate vaccination or submit a weekly negative test before coming to work. The rule will also require employers to provide paid time off for getting vaccinated and recover from any vaccine-related side effects. The ETS is expected to include a fine provision of up to $14,000 per employee for noncompliance. The rule will include exemptions for individuals with disabilities and religious grounds.
President Biden also announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most healthcare settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. This rule is expected to cover about 17 million healthcare workers across the country. Some facilities and states have adopted vaccine mandates, and the action is intended to create a consistent standard across the country for healthcare providers.
The administration will also issue an executive order that requires all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, removing the option of submitting to weekly testing.
Private-sector employers with more than 100 employees, and most healthcare-sector employers, should start planning now to comply with OSHA’s ETS. We expect it to be issued within the next few weeks.