What President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Means for Employers

President Joe Biden’s administration is continuing its efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of the deadly coronavirus Delta variant. Recently, the White House ordered all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Now, the government is imposing a similar requirement on private employers. The move is estimated to affect over 80 million private-sector workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been tasked with drafting an emergency temporary standard (ETS) and will announce more specifics in the coming weeks. Soon, employers with 100 or more employees will need to adapt their vaccine policies to comply with these new rules.

This article discusses this latest vaccination mandate, including its scope and how it may affect employers.

Note: This is a developing issue. Information will be updated here and in subsequent resources as more details are released.

Rule Overview

Soon, employers with 100 or more employees (measured companywide, not by location) will need to enforce one of the following:

  • Require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Require unvaccinated employees to produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test each week

This flexibility allows employers to choose how strictly they want to enforce a vaccine mandate. In other words, some employers may decide to make vaccination a condition of employment; others may only require negative COVID-19 tests.

What’s Known About the Upcoming Rule

OSHA is tasked with drafting the new rule. As such, there will be few details available before OSHA publishes a definitive ETS. Meanwhile, the only pertinent information has come from short government briefings.

Here’s what’s known about the upcoming rule, keeping in mind these particulars may change in time:

  • The rule will only apply to employers with 100 or more employees, measured companywide.
  • Employers will be able to decide if they want to adopt a strict, mandatory vaccination policy or allow testing as an alternative.
  • Employers must provide paid leave to receive and recover from vaccinations.
  • Remote employees not working in contact with others will be exempt from the ETS (unless they come into the workplace).
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