What Small Businesses Need to Know about the New Executive Order Requiring COVID-19 Vaccines for Workers

by Edgar R. Olivo

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, the Biden administration issued new Executive Orders to create a path out of the pandemic. One of the Orders requires COVID-19 vaccines for certain workers such as “federal contractors” and private employers with more than 100 employees. This Executive Order addresses many of the accessibility issues workers face when seeking the vaccine or testing, and directs the Occupancy Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to initiate new health safety rules for private employers.

The Biden administration has not determined when the mandate will go into effect for businesses with 100 employees or fewer. The vaccine mandate is expected to affect roughly 80 million employees in the U.S.

The new vaccine mandate could provide a legal buffer for businesses that want to impose a vaccine mandate but have hesitated over fear of lawsuits. Legal scholars agree individual businesses have the right to require proof of vaccination from their employees, with some exemptions likely needed.

Here is some information that may help small businesses trying to assess how they may be impacted.

Vaccinate the Unvaccinated

  • Require all employers with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.
  • Require employers to provide paid time off to get vaccinated.
  • Require vaccinations for all federal executive branch workers and for millions of contractors that do business with the federal government.
  • Require COVID-19 vaccinations for more than 17 million healthcare workers.
  • Call on large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry.

Further Protect the Vaccinated

  • Provide easy access to booster shots for eligible Americans once approved. Booster shots will be free, and widely available across 80,000 locations.
  • Ensure Americans know where to get a booster with a toll-free number available in more than 150 languages.

Keep Schools Open and Safe

  • Protect student access to in-person instruction.
  • Call on all states to adopt vaccine requirements for all school employees.
  • Require Head Start staff to be vaccinated.
  • Get students and school staff tested regularly.
  • Support timely FDA review of vaccines for those under 12 years old.

Testing and Masking

  • Use the Defense Production Act to procure nearly 300 million at-home testing kits.
  • Make at-home test kits up to 35% cheaper.
  • Send 25 million free at-home testing kits to community health centers and food banks.
  • Continue requiring masking on interstate transit like planes and on federal property.
  • Double fines for those who do not comply with TSA mask rules.

Protect Our Economic Recovery

  • Provide loans of $500,000 to $2 million for small businesses to hire and retain employees, purchase inventory and pay off higher-interest debt.
  • Make it easier for more than 3.5 million PPP borrowers with loans of $150,000 or less to get their loans wiped clean.
  • Launch the Community Navigator Program to connect small businesses to the help they need.

Improve Care for Those with COVID

  • Increase support for COVID-burdened hospitals.
  • Double the number of DoD teams of clinicians deployed to hospitals.
  • Increase weekly shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments by 50% in September.
  • Deploy federal Monoclonal Antibody Strike Teams to ensure that more patients can access these lifesaving COVID-19 therapeutics.

The mandate has not yet been written by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The White House has said it will provide more guidance by Sept. 24.

EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor, and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.

Para la versión en español de este artículo, haga clic aquí.

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