Biden’s New COVID-19 Action Plan: What Does It Mean for Employers?

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
09/10/2021

Yesterday evening, President Biden announced a new action plan to fight the spread of COVID-19 and battle back yet another surge sparked by the delta variant.  The national strategy calls on both public and private sector employers to take steps get the unvaccinated vaccinated by mandating vaccines for employees and offering other protections for workers.

As part of the plan, all employers with 100 or more employees will need to ensure that workers are fully vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.  Those same employers will be required to provide paid time off for the time it takes workers to get vaccinated or to recover from the effects of vaccination.  The requirements will be implemented via an emergency rule issued by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which oversees health and safety in the workplace.

Biden has also issued two Executive Orders applicable to workers who work for and with the federal government.   The first Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination For Federal Employees requires all Executive agencies to implement a program to require COVID-19 vaccination for their employees.  The Executive Order, which does not provide an opt-out testing alternative, states that exceptions will be made “only as required by law.”[1]

A second Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors directs the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) to issue guidance by September 24, 2021, on adequate COVID-19 safety protocols for federal contractors and subcontractors. If the guidance is approved, affected contractors and subcontractors will need to attest to compliance as a part of certain new contracts.

K&S will continue to provide updates as further guidance on these matters is issued.

[1] My colleague Jordan Dunham recently blogged about legally-required exemptions for worker vaccine mandates here.

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