With the Delta variant continuing to surge throughout the country, employers have begun to seriously consider mandatory vaccination policies. As I mentioned before, on September 9th, we presented a webinar on the topic.
But shortly after our webinar, the Biden Administration released a COVID-19 Action Plan which combines executive orders with forthcoming regulatory action. The Plan will reach deep into the private sector, mandating vaccination (or, in some cases, weekly testing) for a wide variety of workers.
Much of the Plan is still being developed and will take effect in the coming weeks, but my colleagues and I did a full recap here.
Most notably, the Biden plan for employers with 100 or more employees will not require every employee to be vaccinated. Rather, those who remain unvaccinated must be tested on a weekly basis. To be sure, weekly testing (and tracking such tests) isn’t easy, but for employers who have been loath to mandate a vaccine for every employee, this will provide an escape hatch to a strict mandatory vaccination policy.
If the federal OSHA does issue the Emergency Temporary Standards as expected, it should go into effective immediately for the private sector. The state will then have 30 days or so to decide whether it will cover the public sector for 100 or more employees under Connecticut’s OSHA.
At the webinar, we discussed some of the practical considerations that employers will want to consider: How many employees are already vaccinated? Is there a risk of high attrition with a mandate? Are customers or clients requiring vaccination to work with them?
For employers, there are a few steps to take beyond surveying employees. Employers should develop a written policy. Employers should also develop religious and medical exemption request forms for employees to fill out if needed. Employers should designate a recipient to review such forms and, in any event, should keep all vaccination records confidential.
For more suggestions and considerations, our free webinar “What Employers Need to Know: Mandating COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace” may be viewed at any time here.