On Thursday, September 9, 2021, President Biden announced a series of proposals as part of the administration’s strategy to continue fighting COVID-19. In addition to existing immunization requirements for federal government employees that were issued in July, President Biden ordered the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) to develop a standard temporary emergency to meet the immunization requirements of private employers.
In the absence of any legal challenge, as part of the administration’s six-part action plan “Exiting the Pandemic”, we have identified several proposals that should have an impact on private employers and workers in the health. These proposals are briefly summarized below:
- Require all employers with more than 100 employees to require weekly vaccinations or tests
While details have not yet been clarified, OSHA is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or will require workers who are not. vaccinated to produce a negative COVID-19 test result at least once a week. before reporting to work. This mandate will take the form of a Temporary Emergency Standard (ETS) which should be published in the coming weeks. OSHA is authorized to establish temporary emergency standards that take effect immediately and are in effect until superseded by a permanent standard. The LSST will impose fines for non-compliance with the ETS. The details of these sanctions remain to be seen.
At the state level, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) adopts all OSHA standards and regulations with a few exceptions. The IOSHA is responsible for conducting health and safety inspections at all workplaces in the State of Indiana, except for places covered by the Construction Safety Division. In this regard, IOSHA will apply the ETS issued by the federal OHSA. In recent months, IOSHA has encountered staffing issues that may impact its ability to serve as a fully effective enforcement division, if requested by the federal government.
- Require employers to give paid time off to get vaccinated
Once issued, the OSHA HTA should require employers of 100 or more employees to provide paid time off for the time their employees need to receive the vaccination or recover from the effects after vaccination.
- Require vaccinations for federal workers and contractors doing business with the federal government
Building on the requirements for unvaccinated federal workers in July, President Biden signed an executive order requiring all federal executive workers to be vaccinated. Unlike private sector employees, federal workers do not have the option of opting out of compulsory vaccination by testing themselves regularly. A separate ordinance signed by President Biden applies the same requirements for federal workers to employees of contractors who deal with the federal government.
- Require COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and other healthcare settings
In August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) drew up emergency regulations requiring vaccinations for nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid. CMS will take ongoing action to require vaccination of workers in most health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, including nursing homes, hospitals, dialysis centers, outpatient surgery facilities and other establishments regulated by CMS. The requirements will also apply to persons and staff of such establishments and to those providing services under other agreements.
- Increased support for small businesses
The revised action plan includes additional support for small businesses by strengthening the COVID Injury-Related Economic Disaster (EIDL) Loan Program, which provides loans to eligible small businesses. The administration said the improvements will allow more businesses to borrow funds from the program’s $ 150 billion in loanable funds. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will increase the maximum amount of financing that a small business can borrow through this program from $ 500,000 to $ 2 million. Recipients will not be required to repay these loans for two years after receiving the funding. The plan includes better access to these funds for heavily affected businesses such as restaurants, hotels and gyms, and tighter SBA controls to monitor the program and beneficiaries. The SBA will also offer an exclusive 30-day access window where only small businesses looking for loans of $ 500,000 or less will receive rewards after the launch of the enhanced loan product.