Further guidance will be provided by OSHA to employers in the next several weeks.
About a month ago, we reported that federal contractor on-site employees must be fully vaccinated or face regular testing and other requirements. On September 9, 2021, the White House announced a six-pronged federal strategy, Path out of the Pandemic, and issued two Executive Orders to expand COVID-19 vaccinations by using its regulatory authority regarding entities doing business with the federal government.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that will require vaccinations for all federal government employees, federal contractor employees, and to all private sector employers with more than 100 employees. Under rules for temporary emergency standards, comments will not be solicited, and the rule from OSHA will be expedited. The Task force is ordered to issue guidance by September 24, 2021 and is expected to provide more clarity and clearer details to comply with the Executive Order.
According to the Path out of the Pandemic, OSHA “is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work.”
Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors requires Federal agencies to ensure contractors comply with guidance to be issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, upon approval by OMB. It is expected that it will require all employees working in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument to be required to be vaccinated. Only those that are exempt, for medical or religious reasons, will allow a weekly testing alternative.
Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees requires each Federal agency to implement a program to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all of its employees, with exceptions only as required by law to support medical or religious reasons.
President Biden ordered the ETS to issue rules within the “coming weeks.” The Safer Federal Workplace Task Force will issue new guidance by September 24, 2021.
The pending guidance by the ETS and the OSHA rule will provide more details and clarity to the requirements and employer obligations for vaccinations. Federal contractors will have better information to determine if their current federal contracts or future contracts will be subject to the Executive Order.