If those of us in healthcare are having a tough time keeping straight whether the mandates are on or off, imagine the rest of the country! As of this writing, they are on. Kind of. Feel free to read through an earlier blog and its information sources for a timeline, but in a nutshell, there are two mandates. OSHA’s ETS is aimed at employers with 100+ employees and requires both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (with the first completed by January 10, 2022) or weekly testing. The CMS mandate is specific to the healthcare industry, requiring all employees to be vaccinated by January 4, 2022 and contains no testing alternative.
Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear the challenges to both mandates on January 7, 2022. Our friends at Fisher & Phillips have once again, done a stellar job of netting the particulars and legal issues of both mandates for those of us non-attorneys, which you can read here. Suffice it to say that we’re not out of the woods yet. The bottom line is that we should continue preparing until we decisive answer about the immediate enforceability of both rules is received.
F&P suggests that employers:
- Determine if you fall under either mandate.
- Assuming they do, gather the vax status of your employees, noting which doses they’ve had and when.
- Develop your workplace vaccination policy and hold it in abeyance until the SCOTUS decision.
- Develop a compliance process for this issue. Regulation fine print says you need to make a good faith effort to be ready to comply given the tight deadlines and SCOTUS case. So, consider training management staff on the policy you developed.
- If you opt to include a testing alternative, make sure to develop the process for employees to be tested and provide proof of negative COVID status.
Healthcare employers should also:
- Develop accommodation requests and a process to work thought them in addition to any additional COVID precautions for those granted accommodations.
- Communicate your workplace policies.
- Prepare for on-site CMS inspections by maintaining detailed records of your compliance efforts.