On November 4, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Interim Final Rule (the Rule) requiring healthcare employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for staff. The Rule was issued at the same time as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for employers with 100 or more employees. Unlike the OSHA ETS, the CMS Rule does not allow for testing instead of vaccination. Under the CMS Rule, healthcare workers will need to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published an Emergency Temporary Standard regarding COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements. This ETS applies to employers with at least 100 employees. In counting employees, employers must include all U.S. employees (including full and part-time) employed while the ETS is in effect, regardless of the employee’s vaccination status or work location. While employees who work remotely from home, work exclusively outdoors, or report to a workplace without coworkers or customers present must be counted for purposes of determining whether the employer is covered by the ETS, the employer generally does not need to require vaccination or testing for these individuals.

Not surprisingly, several states quickly initiated legal challenges to the ETS. On November 6, 2021, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order staying OSHA’s enforcement of the ETS pending further judicial review. The U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA must respond to the order by 5 p.m. on November 8, 2021.

On September 9, 2021, the White House announced Path Out of the Pandemic: President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in part by imposing new obligations on employers. Most notably, employers with 100 or more employees must ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or require unvaccinated workers to produce a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis.

On June 10, 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard. This ETS applies to workers in healthcare settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonable expected to be present, and addresses the hazards of employee exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Additionally, OSHA provided updated guidance for employers and workers not subject to the COVID-19 Healthcare ETS.

On May 28, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") issued updated guidance related to COVID-19 vaccination policies.

On this Employment Law Alliance podcast, attorneys Tara Stingley and Katie Joseph discuss the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act and obligations imposed on employers with regard to employee benefits and COBRA subsidies in light of recent DOL guidance. To listen CLICK HERE.

On April 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") issued FAQs and model forms relating to the American Rescue Plan Act's ("ARPA") mandatory 100% COBRA subsidy for certain qualified beneficiaries.

On this Employment Law Alliance podcast, attorneys Tara Stingley and Katie Joseph discuss the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act. They focus heavily on provisions that immediately impact employers subject to COBRA. To listen CLICK HERE.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act ("ARPA"), a 1.9 trillion relief package. This economic stimulus bill is intended to expedite the United States' recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing recession. 

A recent security incident at a water plant in Oldsmar, Florida demonstrates the risks of letting employees without training in security set up a computer environment. Employers should draw a lesson from this incident and take steps to manage their employees' use of technology.