On Thursday, September 9, 2021, President Biden announced as part of his six-pronged national strategy to combat COVID-19 that he has directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop and issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”). It will require all private employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workforce is fully vaccinated or will require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before reporting to work. It is estimated that the ETS will impact over 80 million workers. The President’s announcement also stated that the ETS will include a requirement that covered employers provide paid time off for the time required for employees to get vaccinated or to recover if they experience an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
The President also announced that he has signed an Executive Order (“EO”) which is intended to extend the mandatory vaccination requirement for federal workers to federal contractor employees. Although the EO does not expressly mandate employee vaccinations, it requires federal contractors to comply with workplace guidance published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”) which is expected to include a vaccination requirement. The EO also states that it “shall apply to any workplace locations (as specified by the Task Force Guidance) in which an individual is working on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument (as described in section 5(a) of this order).” Thus, the Task Force Guidance, when issued, will apply to a federal contractor’s entire workforce.
The EO will apply to any new contract or contract-like instrument, as well as any “new solicitation for a contract or contract-like instrument; extension or renewal of an existing contract or contract-like instrument; and exercise of an option on an existing contract or contract-like instrument” if it is a:
The EO does not apply to:
The Task Force plans to issue its guidance/proposed clause by September 24, 2021. Contracting agencies must take steps by October 8, 2021, to include the clause in covered contracts. Additionally, the clause should begin appearing in covered contracts entered into on or after October 15, 2021.
Employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors should take steps to be ready to comply with these requirements when they take effect.