President Biden has issued a series of proposals to encourage more Americans to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, including some rules that directly affect employers.
Under the new proposals, businesses with more than 100 workers must require vaccinations for their employees or undergo weekly testing. Additionally, the president ordered employers to offer paid time off for employees to get vaccinated or recover from any potential side effects of vaccination. It is the government’s largest campaign to date to get more Americans vaccinated.
All federal and federally-contracted employees will also be subject to vaccinations or mandatory weekly testing. In total, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says the proposals could affect as many as 100 million working Americans.
“The fact that the largest employer in the U.S. is mandating vaccines will give comfort to private employers that have been hesitant to require vaccines. It may also set the standard for what a reasonable employer should be doing in the face of this continuing epidemic,” says Steve Bell, a partner at law firm Dorsey & Whitney.
Chelsea Smith, a labor and employment attorney Hall Estill, tells SHRM private-sector employers should seek legal advice and establish a vaccine policy that provides for exemptions for people with qualified disabilities, as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and for people with sincerely held religious beliefs, as defined under Title VII of The Civil Rights Act.
For more information on COVID-19 as it influences employers, visit SHRM’s resource page.