Employer Alert: What You Need to Know Now About Coming Workplace Vaccine Mandates

OSHA Will Require Large Employers to Mandate Vaccinations or Test Weekly

Man receives shot from nurse in an office setting while medical technicians look on.
Photo by CDC on Unsplash
  • Special categories: All businesses that receive federal funds, including those receiving grant and research funds and hospitals and care facilities that receive Medicaid/Medicare funding, will be covered by the new standard — regardless of headcount. September 27 update: President Biden recently announced that federal services contractors — and subcontractors at any level — will be required to assure that all employees are vaccinated (unless covered by an accommodation). Contractors that provide products only are exempt from coverage (unless, of course, they are covered due to workforce size). There is no testing alternative for federal contractors. Contract amendments should be issued by mid-October.
  • A note for those in white-collar roles: Many people regard OSHA as an agency focused on manufacturing, services and other technical and manual functions; however, professionals working in office settings (tech, consulting, finance, accounting and the law, to name a few), retail and other industries and settings should be aware that the ETS will apply across the board. Employers in all industries that meet the eligibility threshold should begin preparing for compliance now.
  • Employees in states with a state-level agency for workplace safety: OSHA has previously approved state-level workplace safety plans in 26 states. Some plans cover government employees only; others cover both government and private sector employees. The ETS will include a requirement that state-level workplace safety agencies adopt a standard as least as stringent as the federal standard within 15–30 days following implementation at the federal level, or the federal standard may be imposed.
  • Remote workers: In keeping with its reluctance to regulate home offices, OSHA likely will not cover employees that work remotely and do not come in contact with other employees in the workplace.
  • an analysis of your collective bargaining obligations if your workplace includes union personnel
  • a review of your accommodation process for evaluating requests from individuals that cannot receive a vaccine due to a medical condition, or those that may object on religious grounds
  • a review of your record-keeping practices to assure security and efficiency

Boston, MA attorney and consultant specializing in labor and employment law, dispute resolution and government relations.