National Construction Practice Safety Alert
On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced an Executive Order and related actions implementing new policies to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of the policies will directly affect employers and require action.
- The Executive Order will require all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated and directed that this standard be extended to employees of contractors that do business with the federal government. There is no weekly testing option available to these employees.
- All private -sector employers with 100 or more employees will be required to ensure that their workers are either vaccinated or are tested weekly for COVID-19.
- The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement. The OSHA rule will also require employers with 100 or more employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover from any ill effects of the vaccination.
- Vaccination requirements will also apply to health-care workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and other health-care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.
Although, according to the Labor Department, the rule will cover more than 80 million workers in the United States, many details will not be available regarding these requirements —including the effective date —until the OSHA ETS or other guidance is issued. Typically, such mandates involve appropriate time for implementation, although addressing the COVID-19 pandemic may be viewed as urgent. Once the rule is published, it will take effect in the 29 states where OSHA has jurisdiction. States with state run plans will have to adopt the federal ETS or a rule that is stricter than the ETS within 15 to 30 days. Although OSHA can enforce the rule immediately, there may be a grace period to give employers time to comply. Epic will continue to monitor developments in the rulemaking process and will issue updates as appropriate.
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