On 9/9/21, the President announced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for American employers and employees.
The initiative includes:
Requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workforce is fully vaccinated, and to impose mandatory weekly testing requirements for any employees that remain unvaccinated. It is estimated this will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses.
Requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to provide paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from any vaccination side effects.
Requiring all federal workers to be vaccinated.
Requiring employees of all federal contractors to be vaccinated.
Imposing mandatory vaccination requirements for workers employed by health care facilities.
Calling on states to impose mandatory vaccination requirements for all school employees.
Calling on entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry.
Critical mandate details that have yet to be answered:
Testing Supply – Who will Bear the Cost of Testing?
Will there be enough tests available to accommodate testing for employees who either choose to remain unvaccinated or are unable to be vaccinated, and who will pay for the testing?
No details have been announced regarding sufficient testing supply and if the government will help fund the cost of testing.
The CDC has warned of a shortage of rapid test kits and has recommended the use of laboratory testing when possible. Rapid test kits range in cost from $20 – $25 at local retail locations.
Typically health insurers only provide coverage for “physician approved testing.” This means you must have been exposed or are exhibiting symptoms in order for COVID-19 testing to be covered.
Most health insurers cost-sharing waiver for members’ COVID-19 treatment ends 9/30/21.
Enforcement of the Mandate
OSHA will oversee interpretation and enforcement of the mandate, which will be issued as an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).
OSHA plans to issue the ETS within 2-8 weeks and it will become effective immediately.
The 100 employee threshold will apply to one employer, even if you have employees at multiple locations.
The testing/vaccination requirement will not apply to employees working remotely or who are physically isolated from other co-workers.
OSHA penalties can be as high as $14,000 per violation per individual. For example, an employer not complying with the rule with 50 unvaccinated employees could face a potential fine as high as $700,000.
Look for OSHA interpretation of the mandate in the weeks to come.