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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

September 10, 2021

President Biden Announces Sweeping Vaccine Mandates

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, President Biden announced even more expansive vaccine mandates that are set to impact an estimated two-thirds of the domestic workforce with Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees and Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. Specifically, federal employees and contractors and health care workers will be required to be vaccinated, and private employers with more than 100 employees will be required to have their employees vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. In addition, federal employees and contractors will no longer be allowed to opt out of the vaccine with testing. Separately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been directed to draft a rule implementing President Biden’s new initiatives.

In addressing the mandate for federal workers, the White House noted that federal workers will be given a 75-day grace period to receive the vaccine unless they have a valid religious or disability exemption. In a press briefing on Thursday, September 9, 2021, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted that any federal employee that refuses the vaccine will “go through the standard HR process,” including progressive disciplinary action.

OSHA is expected to issue the rule as an emergency temporary standard. The emergency temporary standard should provide more specific details, including the applicability of the mandate to employees who work remotely and the deadlines for compliance. State and local government employees would not be covered by OSHA’s emergency temporary standard.  

In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing guidance requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. This requirement will impact over 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other facilities that take these patients.

Barclay Damon’s labor and employment attorneys will continue to monitor developments in COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandates and will provide updates regarding the specific details of OSHA’s emergency temporary standard and CMS’s guidance.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Margaret Surowka, counsel, at msurowka@barclaydamon.com; Bob Heary, Labor & Employment Practice Area chair, at rheary@barclaydamon.com; or another other member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Area.

We also have a specific team of Barclay Damon attorneys who are actively working on assessing regulatory, legislative, and other governmental updates related to COVID-19 and who are prepared to assist clients. Please contact Yvonne Hennessey, COVID-19 Response Team leader, at yhennessey@barclaydamon.com, or any member of the COVID-19 Response Team, at COVID-19ResponseTeam@barclaydamon.com.

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