In September 2021, the White House issued a press release announcing a new, comprehensive, six-part plan to increase vaccinations nationwide.
According to the press release, past efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in over 175 million Americans becoming fully vaccinated. However, there are still nearly 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten their first shot.
“The President’s plan will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements—these requirements will become dominant in the workplace,” according to the press release. “This plan will ensure that we are using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save even more lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting our economy from lockdowns and damage.”
While there are several dozen strategies contained in the six-part plan, three in specific may end up directly affecting electrical contractors.
First, the Biden Administration is directing OSHA to develop a new rule that will require all businesses with 100 or more employees to either ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. The press release stated that OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement, which is expected to impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with more than 100 employees.
Second, to ensure that no worker loses any wages because of time required to get vaccinated or address side effects after, OSHA is developing a rule that will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or recover if they are “under the weather” post-vaccination. This requirement will be implemented through the ETS mentioned above.
Third, the president has signed an executive order that will require all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated. In addition, the president signed another executive order that this vaccination requirement also be extended to contractors’ employees doing business with the federal government.