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COVID Update for Employers

Updated: May 19, 2023

Last month President Biden announced broad new rules regarding COVID-19 vaccination requirements for employees. These new requirements will be in effect for employers with 100 or more employees, for health care facilities that participate in Medicare or Medicaid, for federal contractors and subcontractors, and for federal agencies. However, the specific requirements differ for each of these groups.

Employers with 100 or more employees will need to ensure that each employee is either fully vaccinated or shows a negative COVID-19 test weekly. The specifics of these requirements will be released as an emergency rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Based on the rules released for federal contractors, it is likely that “fully vaccinated” will mean that it has been two weeks since the employee received a second COVID vaccine dose (or the only dose of a single-dose vaccine). Employers will be required to provide employees with paid time off to get vaccinated.

A new interim rule for healthcare entities is expected from CMS this month, applicable to all entities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. This new rule will implement vaccination requirements for most or all employees -- including those not directly involved in patient care.

Proposed rules for federal contractors and subcontractors have been released by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. Under these rules, covered employees must be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021 -- in other words, they must receive their second (or only) vaccine dose by Wednesday, November 24, 2021. Employers will be obliged to review proof of each employee’s vaccination status.

The requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors do not apply to all employees; they only apply to employees working at a “covered contractor workplace,” meaning a location where one or more employees working on a federal contract are likely to be present during the period of performance of the contract. In other words, if one employee in one office is working on billing related to a federal contract, every employee in that office will be required to be vaccinated. Federal contractors and subcontractors will need to designate one or more people to implement and ensure compliance with the new requirements.

As the final rules are released, we plan to update this page. Employers should familiarize themselves with the details of any requirements and/or exceptions applicable to their business. Given how long becoming ‘fully vaccinated’ can take, employers should promptly develop a plan and policy to address these challenges.


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