|On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced a major expansion to the federal government’s role in combating the recent COVID-19 surge.
The President also announced an Executive Order implementing a mandatory vaccination policy for federal employees, who will no longer be able to opt into weekly testing as an alternative to vaccination.
A second Executive Order requires that all contractors doing business with the federal government also be vaccinated. President Biden has further directed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.
Last, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) w will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a weekly negative test result. OSHA is allowed to issue an ETS if a “grave danger” to worker safety is present.
Once promulgated, covered employers will face penalties of up to $14,000 per violation if violations of the ETS are found. While the ETS is several weeks away, OSHA officials have urged businesses to voluntarily begin the process of adopting vaccination mandates, without waiting.
There are some unanswered questions currently, so while the agency urges voluntary adoption of mandates, it is unclear what recordkeeping will be required. This becomes important given the OSHA records retention schedule of lifetime of employment +30 years. Additionally, it’s not entirely clear how the 100-employee threshold will be calculated although given the nature of the pandemic, it seems likely that a calculation favoring inclusion of as many employers as possible would be the result.
Also unclear at this time is the party responsible for testing the unvaccinated. Some insurance may pay for the tests, and some state laws require employers to pay or reimburse for similar tests.
CIP HR Services can help you plan your next steps. Let us know how we can help. Reach out to your account manager or call James Morrissey at 617-354-0866 x17