Earlier this month, the Biden administration released a memo called “Path out of the Pandemic.” The memorandum outlines six priorities for fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic. All businesses should take note of the mandate and what it means. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will soon issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). It will include language on paid time off to get vaccinated and recovering from the illness that is sometimes a temporary side-effect of the vaccine.
Vaccinating the unvaccinated
This all falls under the President’s top priority of “Vaccinating the Unvaccinated.” One thing that immediately jumps out is that employers with 100 or more workers must have a vaccine mandate where employees are either vaccinated or tested every week.
Federal workers and contractors
The new mandate extends beyond guidelines for federal workers and applies to millions of federal government contractors who do business with the feds regardless of whether they work inside federal buildings. This rule falls under the Executive Order clause (Section 2(a)) already included in federal contracts.
Since the government awards contracts in the fourth quarter, contractors may not see the clause until 2022. However, there will likely be a drive to impose the requirement through existing contracts. Moreover, this will also likely trickle down in many cases to subcontractors even when they are remote workers.
Health care workers too
The administration will require the 17 million health care workers in this country employed by hospitals, health care facilities and businesses that participate in Medicare and Medicaid also to be vaccinated. It will even apply to employees working in home settings and administrators with no direct contact with patients, residents or clients.
Many will have questions
Employees with legal grounds not to get vaccinated will likely need to check with their employers about compliance. On the other hand, employers will need to stay up to speed on how to enforce new laws on this quickly evolving issue.