Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced a sweeping COVID-19 vaccination mandate that will impact the majority of the American workforce. 
First, President Biden announced he has directed the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enact an emergency rule requiring all employers with 100+ workers to require COVID-19 vaccinations or a weekly negative test result before coming to work. The new rule will be enforced by OSHA, which will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement. Additional details are expected in the coming weeks.
Second, President Biden signed an Executive Order that requires all federal workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, without a testing option (i.e., weekly negative tests) in lieu of vaccination. For federal workers, there will be exemptions from the vaccination mandate for certain medical or religious reasons. 
Third, President Biden signed another executive order setting COVID-19 safety protocols applicable to certain federal contractors, and announced that the federal worker vaccination requirements will apply to applicable federal contractors. Exactly what is going to be required of federal contractors and subcontractors is to be determined by a Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, which has been ordered to issue its guidance by September 24, 2021. Until then, it is not clear what is going to be required and which federal contractors and subcontractors will be impacted.
In addition, Biden announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.
We are keeping a close eye on any developments related to an impending OSHA ETS on COVID-19 vaccinations and further action from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. 
In the meantime, we recommend that you:
  1. Educate your workforce with truthful information from trusted sources regarding the importance and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  2. Strongly recommend that employees get vaccinated as soon as possible. 
  3. Provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated. For employers with less than 500 employees, the FFCRA dollar-for-dollar payroll tax credit is available to employers through September 30, 2021 for COVID-19-related reasons, including time off to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
  4. Confidentially survey your workforce to determine who is vaccinated and who is not. Vaccination status must be kept confidential according to the EEOC.
  5. Request a copy of the CDC Vaccination Card from fully vaccinated individuals, and keep this information in each employee’s confidential medical file. 
While legal challenges will happen, the federal government, through OSHA, has broad discretion to implement standards for workplace safety. If you have questions about how to educate your workforce, survey your workforce, and prepare your business for these new and unprecedented changes, don’t worry—we are here to help! 
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