All employers with 100 or more employees would have to require their workers be vaccinated or undergo at least weekly COVID-19 testing under a new plan announced by President Joe Biden on Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is developing an emergency temporary standard implementing the new requirement, which will cover 80 million private-sector workers, according to a White House release. Businesses that don’t comply can face fines of up to $14,000 per violation, the release stated.
The employers will also have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects of getting vaccinated.
The administration also plans to require vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. The mandate applies to about 50,000 health providers, according to the release.
Additionally, Biden is signing an executive order that requires all federal executive branch workers to get vaccinated, as well as employees of contractors that do business with the federal government.
New mandates will cover about 100 million workers, or two-thirds of all workers in the U.S., the White House said.
Some federal agencies had already issued requirements that went beyond the president’s July directive to federal workers to get vaccinated or face regular testing. The Department of Health and Human Services is requiring more than 25,000 of its health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the military have also issued mandates.
The new vaccine mandate will likely embolden other employers that were on the fence about enforcing a vaccine requirement, though it could face legal challenges, said Mark Neuberger, counsel and litigation lawyer at Foley & Lardner LLP.
“The comprehensive actions taken by President Biden on Thursday dropped the checkered flag on employers entering the race against COVID,” Neuberger said. “Any employer who was thinking about mandating the COVID vaccines for its employees just received the ultimate cover. It remains to be seen how Thursday’s Executive Orders survive in what will inevitably be a hailstorm of legal challenges.”