Path Out of the Pandemic: Next Steps for Employers

Path Out of the Pandemic: Next Steps for Employers

On September 9, 2021, President Biden proposed his “Path Out of the Pandemic” Plan. The 6-prong plan focuses efforts in the following areas:

  • Increasing number of vaccinated individuals
  • Vaccination boosters
  • Schools
  • Increasing testing and masking requirements
  • Economic recovery
  • Care for infected individuals

Employers need to pay particular attention to prongs 1 and 4, as these include special requirements for the workplace.

Prong 1: Vaccinations

Biden’s plan directs the DOL Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to publish a Temporary Emergency Standard and forthcoming regulations that will require employers with 100+ employees to implement a workplace vaccine mandate, or, in the alternative, to require weekly testing. As always, the ADA and Title VII interactive reasonable accommodation process is available to individuals who express a request for accommodation due to religion, disability, or a medical condition.

Vaccinations for Federal Contractors

While employers who do not contract with the federal government have until whatever deadline is set in the forthcoming regulations to implement vaccine/testing mandates, federal contractors have a set deadline to comply. As per the President’s Executive Order, many covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 no later than 12/8/2021. The detailed implementation timeline is as follows:

  • Existing contracts must include the required vaccine clause when the contract option is exercised or when the contract is extended.
  • The vaccination clause should be included in contract solicitations between October 15 and November 14, 2021.
  • Contracts awarded on or after November 14, 2021 should include the required clause. Many covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated by the first day of contract performance.

The EOs and Guidance apply to all federal contractors and subcontractors – regardless of employer size – at all tiers. This includes individuals working from home for a covered contractor, working at a covered contractor workplace, or working at a Federal workplace.

Contractors are not required to provide workplace COVID-19 vaccinations. Contractors can inform and encourage to participate in vaccination opportunities. See Q2. Employers must review employee documentation to prove vaccination status. Employees must provide a copy of their vaccination record card or relevant medical records. An individual employee’s attestation of vaccination or antibody tests are not acceptable proof of vaccination status.

Prong 2: Mask and distancing requirements

Employees and visitors must comply with published CDC guidance regarding masks and distancing,

Next Steps:

Employers engaged in federal contracts will want to become familiar with the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Guidance. Safer Federal Workforce. As first steps, employers should:

  • Ensure that the required clause is incorporated into all first-tier subcontracts.
  • Post signage at workplace entrances. The signage should include information on safety protocols for fully vaccinated and not fully unvaccinated individuals, masking protocols, and distancing protocols.
  • Take reasonable steps to advise site visitors of the above protocols.

There are many questions remaining, and we hope the regulations will address many outstanding concerns. For now, we await further developments.

Additional resources:

Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors | The White House September 9, 2021

Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees | The White House September 9, 2021

The information contained in this Benefit Beat is not intended to be legal, accounting, or other professional advice, nor are these comments directed to specific situations. This information is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This information is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. You must consult your own attorney or tax advisor for assistance in specific situations. This information is provided as-is, with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

Path Out of the Pandemic: Next Steps for Employers out of the pandemic.jpg?ver=RCf0B25d0fdc6U3KeVCkxA%3d%3dFederal contractors have immediate obligations, but many questions remain for other employers.2021-10-07T19:00:00-05:00Federal contractors have immediate obligations, but many questions remain for other employers.Regulatory, Compliance, & LegislativeEmployee Benefits ComplianceNo