The Employer Vaccine Mandate: What Employers Need to Know Now

Vanderbilt Health Employer Solutions is monitoring news on President Biden's proposed rule for private-sector employers with at least 100 employees to get vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing. As of today, OSHA still hasn’t announced the official rule, which is called an emergency temporary standard, but it is expected to later this fall. 

Federal contractors, however, are required to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. Prior to that date, onsite contractors who aren’t vaccinated have to show proof of a negative test within 3 days of entering a federal building. 

The president’s announcement "is a real game changer for many employers," Steve Bell, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney told SHRM on Sept. 9. "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."

Looking ahead to mandate vaccines for your workforce or at least considering approaches to encourage vaccination? We’ve gathered some guidance to answer some of your questions and help design a more streamlined process:

• Read this Q&A from the Kaiser Family Foundation on the legality of requiring vaccines. It says that employers can legally require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as long as any mandatory vaccination program meets standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), such as honoring medical or religious exemptions. Employers can also legally provide incentives, such as cash, gift cards or other rewards to improve workplace vaccination rates.

• HR Executive suggests giving extra PTO, offering financial incentives, and maintaining consistent messaging for those seeking alternatives to a vaccine mandate. 

• Among the advice from the Commonwealth Fund, it counsels employers to provide honest, transparent and consistent messages about vaccination and ensure employee policies and workplace culture support paid sick leave. Other smart strategies include explaining the science behind the mandate and making vaccination easy.

If you're developing a program to encourage vaccination among your workforce, see this blog post for resources from Employer Solutions to help streamline that process and answer common questions. If you're looking for a way to help your employees get vaccinated, the team can work with you to host an on-site vaccination event. We will contract with you to cover costs associated with administering the vaccine and producing the event. Learn more about this service at this link or call (615) 343–9557.