President Joe Biden recently ordered sweeping new federal employer vaccine mandates for as many as 100 million Americans — private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors — in an all-out effort to curb the surging COVID-19 delta variant. Here’s what employers need to know about the vaccine mandate.
What is a Vaccine Mandate?
It’s a law that says you must be vaccinated to do certain things like working, traveling, or even attending a concert.
Vaccine mandates aren’t new. All states require certain vaccinations before children start school, with few exemptions or the ability to opt out. And some vaccinations are required for legal immigration or international travel.
Who Would be Required to be Vaccinated Under the New Vaccine Mandate?
- Employers with 100 or more employees will be required to have their employees either be fully vaccinated or get tested weekly to come to work. Biden said OSHA, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, would implement the requirements that would affect more than 80 million workers. The requirement for large companies to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for employees will be enacted through a forthcoming rule from the OSHA that carries penalties of $14,000 per violation. In the meantime, OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to impose this mandate.
- Federal workers and employees of contractors that do business with the federal government will be required to be vaccinated.
- The Department of Health and Human Services will require vaccinations in Head Start Programs, as well as schools run by the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Indian Education.
- Workers in health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, including hospitals and home health agencies, will also have to be fully vaccinated.
The president also called on entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter their facilities.
In addition to the employer vaccine mandates, Biden moved to double federal fines for airline passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights or to maintain face covering requirements on federal property in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Many companies have announced plans for vaccine mandates, including airlines, cruise lines, concert halls, health care facilities and restaurants. If you are an employer with less than 100 employees, you may be wondering – Can you require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine? While you’re focusing on keeping your employees and customers safe, make HR management details one less thing to worry about. Whether you are a startup or a growing company with 50+ employees, HRO has the tools you need so you can focus on guiding your team to success.