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COVID-19 Vaccination To Be Required for All Federal Employees and Employees of Federal Contractors; Federal Agency Actions Regarding Vaccination and Testing for Employers with 100+ Employees, Healthcare Workers, and Head Start Teachers Expected Soon

President Biden has signed Executive Orders that will require that all federal employees and employees of certain federal contractors be vaccinated against COVID-19.  President Biden’s previous Order in July involving federal employees permitted regular testing as an alternative to vaccination, but testing will no longer be acceptable under the new Orders.  There are several questions regarding the federal contractor Executive Order, which places federal contractors under the Safer Federal Workplace Task Force Guidance.  Those questions are expected to be cleared up through directives from the Office of Management and Budget.  Limited exemptions to vaccination due to medical or religious reasons will be permitted.

In a press conference announcing these measures, the White House Press Secretary stated, “Our view is this will serve as a model to the rest of the country on the need to get more people vaccinated.”  To that end, President Biden has also instructed the Department of Labor through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to mandate that all employers with 100 or more employees require their employees to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.  OSHA is expected to issue an emergency temporary standard in October to implement this requirement.  Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will require that all employers that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement require their healthcare employees to be vaccinated.  HHS will also mandate vaccination of public school teachers working in its Head Start programs that are under the HHS Administration of Children and Families.

Together, these actions by President Biden will impact more than 97 million workers.  Details on these requirements will be revealed in the coming weeks.  However, the actions taken by President Biden regarding vaccination are likely to be challenged in the courts.

For more information, please contact our office (806) 468-3300.

Article by Iwana Rademaekers, Of Counsel
Labor & Employment Practice Area
Sprouse Shrader Smith PLLC