On November 4, 2021, the Biden Administration released long-awaited follow-up for rules related to requirements around vaccination for private employers. The Administration started in July with mandates and enforcement being given to federal employees and contractors. President Biden then announced in early September that the Department of Labor would give further mandates to private businesses with more than 100 employees. However, the specifics of that executive authority had not been fully described.
Now there is clarity. The rules will take effect by January 4, 2022 and will preempt all local and state regulations.
As the White House release notes, the Biden Administration has confirmed that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in the Department of Labor will indeed require companies of this size (100 employees or more) to have all their employees either fully vaccinated or be subject to weekly testing. This rule will cover an estimated 84 million employees. Also, unvaccinated employees will need to wear facial mask covering in the workplace. The vaccinations will have to be completed by January 4, 2022 as well.
Employers who have not prepared for this mandate will be challenged. The government is also requiring recording and reporting of the compliance of these mandates. OSHA upon inspection may ask these data to be produced for each employee. Also, fines will approximate $14,000 “per serious violation” which could lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to egregious violators.
A second rule is also important. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require all 17 million health care workers at 76,000 facilities to be fully vaccinated. This group of workers will have no testing option. This will cover hospitals, home health agencies, ambulatory surgery centers and other facilities.
The new era of corporate compliance has arrived. Employers will need to quickly gather their resources and mobilize their administrative resources. Ones who do not may suffer major financial and business loss. The time is now!