President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan
COVID-19 Action Plan
Pursuant to President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan issued in September, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) is currently developing a rule that would require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their respective workforces are 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. The Path Out of Pandemic: President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan is the name of the Action Plan.
OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to implement this requirement, and the requirement is expected to impact over 80 million workers in the private sector. Id. The OSHA rule has not yet been promulgated, so the parameters and standards of the vaccine requirement is not yet known. Some of the potential parameters can be seen in the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force’s “COVID-19 Workplace Safety” guidance documents for executive departments and agencies, along with federal contractors and subcontractors.
Regarding the safety principles for executive departments and agencies, which was issued July 29, 2021, “[i]ndividuals who are not fully vaccinated or who decline to provide information about their vaccination status—including employees, onsite contractors, and those visitors who are required to provide vaccination status—must maintain distance and properly wear masks.
To the extent practicable, individuals who are not fully vaccinated or who decline to provide information about their vaccination status should maintain a distance of at least six feet from others at all times, consistent with CDC guidelines, including in offices, conference rooms, and all other communal and work spaces,” COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Agency Model Safety Principles, Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. Those who are fully vaccinated do not need to physically distance or participate in weekly screening testing, only must wear a face mask in an area of substantial or high transmission. Id.
Regarding the guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors, which was issued September 24, 2021, covered contractors (defined as “a prime contractor or subcontractor at any tier who is party to a covered contract”) must ensure that all covered contractor employees are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, unless the employee is legally entitled to an accommodation. COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors, Safer Federal Workforce is the source of this information.
A covered contractor may be required to provide an accommodation to covered contractor employees who communicate to the covered contractor that they are not vaccinated against COVID-19 because of a disability (which would include medical conditions) or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. Id. (emphasis added). Those who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask indoors and in certain outdoor settings, such as crowded outdoor settings or during outdoor activities that involve sustained close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated, regardless of the level of community transmission in the area.
Furthermore, to the extent practicable, individuals who are not fully vaccinated should maintain a distance of at least six feet from others at all times, including in offices, conference rooms, and all other communal and work spaces. Id. Notably, there is no option for weekly testing as with the guidelines for executive departments and agencies. As with the earlier guidance, in areas of low or moderate community transmission, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask and do not need to physically distance regardless of the level of transmission in the area.
For more information on the federal vaccination mandate from The White House, click right here! If you are concerned about the COVID-19 Action Plan, federal vaccine mandate or your own company’s mandate, call us to schedule a legal coaching session with one of our attorneys.