Biden’s Vaccination Plan, And What Employers Should Expect
UPDATE: On October 12, 2021, OSHA provided President Biden with a draft of the emergency temporary standard that is referenced below. It is expected that the White House will review this standard shortly, and if approved, it will be published to the Federal Register. Washington has its own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plan administered through the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). As such, Washington employers should be prepared for L&I to either adopt the standard as-is, or adopt stricter standards. This is a developing area of the law, and we will provide updates as new information is released.
On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced his COVID-19 “Path Out of the Pandemic” action plan, which includes new requirements pertaining to vaccinations for employees of larger employers.
The President announced that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would be developing an emergency rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to do one of two things: ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or require employees to produce a negative COVID-19 test result each week before coming to work. For those employers wondering how employee leave will affect these new requirements, President Biden also stated that there will be an additional rule requiring employers to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated or recover from post-vaccination side effects.
While it is unclear when this rule will go into effect, affected employers should be mindful that it is likely to be issued soon. To prepare for this, employers meeting the employee threshold should start deciding whether they will permit negative test results in lieu of a mandatory vaccination policy, or simply require that all employees receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.* Moreover, to the extent that scheduling is an operational consideration, prudent employers will want to plan ahead to think through how they can approve and structure leave requests for employees so they may get vaccinated, and similarly, plan for any leave needed for post-vaccine side effects.
The best way to plan for the implementation of these new rules is to consult with an employment attorney. The experienced attorneys at Beresford Booth routinely assist employers with these types of issues and would be happy to help you navigate the effects this rule may have in your workplace. Please feel free to contact us directly for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (425) 776-4100.
* This blog post is focused only on President Biden’s COVID-19 “Path Out of the Pandemic” plan and does not discuss mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations that may be required for certain Washington employees by state proclamation.