President Biden has unveiled his action plan to continue to combat COVID-19 throughout the country. For the most part, the items outlined are strategies and do not have formal regulations behind them at this point. However, it is expected that regulations to implement these strategies will be forthcoming over the next couple of weeks and months. Specific details on these regulations will be sent out as they are available but with the information we have now, here are the main changes that will be coming down the pipeline that will affect businesses:
- All employers with 100+ employees will be required to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or required any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to develop an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to enforce this, similar to the ETS that was already developed for healthcare workers.
- The ETS is also expected to include a rule that will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they have symptoms post- vaccination.
- The definition of employees and whether or not that includes temporary, part-time or seasonal workers is still unclear. If OSHA follows the trend with their other regulations, temporary workers will likely be counted as part of the host employer’s workforce and part-time and seasonal workers will be part of the overall employee count. With OSHA’s electronic reporting rule, if an employer reaches over a certain number of employees at one location at any time throughout the year, they must comply. It is possible OSHA will use that same logic with this ETS.
- The penalties for non-compliance are said to be a maximum of $14,000 per violation. This is in line with OSHA’s current maximums for serious and other-than-serious citations. Whether this will be applied on a per-company or per-employee basis is yet to be seen but based on how OSHA cites their other standards, it’s likely it will not be on a per-employee basis. It’s more likely that the amount of the penalty (up to the $14,000) will depend on the enforcement and the percentage of employees that are not vaccinated.
2. All federal workers must be vaccinated per President Biden’s new Executive Order. This Order also extended the requirement to employees of contractors that do business with the federal government.
3. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be expanding the new rules to require vaccinations to most healthcare settings including (but not limited to) hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings and home health agencies that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. Previously it was announced that CMS would be requiring employee vaccinations for CMS-regulated nursing homes in new rules to come out in September but the edits to expand the settings will likely push the rules out to October.
There are many legal challenges expected as a result of this plan but depending on the timing of when these regulations go into place and how long the court proceedings take, businesses should be prepared to comply with these regulations. More information about these mandates will be sent out as soon as it becomes available. If you have questions in the meantime, please reach out to your Assurance Safety Advocate.
WRITTEN BY: Lauren Gizzi
Lauren Gizzi is the Vice President of Safety at Assurance with more than ten years of industry experience. An expert in safety programming and risk management, she works closely with our clients and Safety Advocates to establish effective safety programs that achieve measurable results. Lauren attended Roosevelt University and has received the following designations: Associate in Risk Management (ARM), Associate in Claims (AIC), Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist (CRIS) and Associate in General Insurance (AINS).