- September 29, 2021
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- Posted by: admin
While available vaccines have proven highly effective in controlling COVID-19 and its variants to date, the virus continues to spread — particularly among unvaccinated populations. In the face of flagging interest, officials across the U.S. have tried different approaches to increase vaccination rates. For example, officials launched incentive programs, stressed personal responsibility, deployed mobile vaccination units, and coordinated with corporate and community partners to encourage and effectuate vaccine uptake.
But having exhausted these avenues, and with the rise of more contagious COVID-19 variants, some officials are going a step further. In recent weeks, several states and municipalities have announced that, in essence, they are requiring certain categories of workers to be vaccinated. Generally, under these types of mandates, workers who decline vaccination must comply with measures that do not apply to their vaccinated counterparts, such as weekly COVID-19 testing and/or mask wearing. Depending on the jurisdiction and the sector involved, however, unvaccinated workers might not have such alternatives.
The chart below – current as of September 28, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. (Central) – provides basic information on vaccination mandates issued at the federal and statewide levels. It covers directives that affect public or private entities as employers. This post does not address local guidance, orders that relate to customer or patron vaccination status (e.g., “vaccine passports”), narrower mandates specific only to schools or educational institutions, or recommendations that do not impose obligations. We will update this list regularly but expect that new announcements will be made frequently in the coming weeks.
In addition, this post does not address other significant issues related to employee vaccinations, including potential leaves of absence, discrimination, accommodation, incentives, and privacy concerns. As a result, employers should consult with counsel for guidance on these legal questions.
Employers interested in further information might also wish to review our posts summarizing statewide guidance on reopening and mitigation protocols, face coverings, and employee health screenings.
Vaccine Requirements for Employees
Per President Biden’s announcement, and this fact sheet, federal government employees will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will be required to mask at all times, test one to two times per week, socially distance, and generally will not be allowed to travel for work. Relatedly, on August 25, 2021, and following the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the Department of Defense announced the release of a memo that “directs the secretaries of the military departments to immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the department on active duty or in the Guard or Reserve, who aren’t yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will require more than 25,000 members of its healthcare workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Members include NIH’s and Indian Health Service’s staff, contractors, trainees, and volunteers who serve in federally operated health care and research facilities or may come in contact with patients. The U.S. Surgeon General will require members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to be vaccinated as well.
On August 18, the White House issued a Fact Sheet announcing that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will develop new regulations requiring nursing homes to require that all of their workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding.
On September 9, President Biden announced a new action plan: Path Out of the Pandemic. As discussed in this Littler article, the plan includes, among other things, requirements that employees working for large private employers, the federal government, federal contractors, and healthcare entities be vaccinated against COVID-19. Highlights include:
The president issued orders formalizing the September 9 announcement: (1) Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees; and (2) Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.
On September 16, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force released vaccination guidance on how agencies must implement the president’s September 9 order, requiring vaccination for federal employees by November 22 (last dose received by November 8). The guidance page includes new and updated FAQs addressing protocols for federal employees and for federal contractors and visitors.
On September 24, and as discussed in this Littler article, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force released its COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors, which requires:
Covered employees must be fully vaccinated by December 8. “After that date, all covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated by the first day of the period of performance on a newly awarded covered contract, and by the first day of the period of performance on an exercised option or extended or renewed contract when the clause has been incorporated into the covered contract.” The guidance also includes FAQs.
Per the governor’s announcement, and this public health order, all state workers – plus workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings – must “either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week. . . . The new policy for state workers will take effect August 2 and testing will be phased in over the next few weeks. The new policy for health care workers and congregate facilities will take effect on August 9, and health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.” The state released related Q&A guidance on that order; that guidance was updated on September 3.
Moreover, per an August 5 announcement, officials expanded the vaccination requirement to cover more types of health care facilities and issued two new public health orders. "The first order requires workers in health care settings to be fully vaccinated or receive their second dose by September 30, 2021." If a health care worker remains unvaccinated for religious or qualifying medical reasons, testing is required. The state released related Q&A guidance on that order, updated September 14. The second August 5 order applies to visitors at hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities and was superseded by an amended health officer order dated August 26.
Per an August 11 announcement, the Department of Public Health released a public health order “requiring all school staff to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week. . . . The new policy for school staff will take effect August 12, 2021, and schools must be in full compliance by October 15, 2021.” The order applies to public and private K-12 schools but does not apply to higher education or child care facilities.
An August 19 vaccination order applies to health care workers in state and local correctional facilities and detention centers. The state released related Q&A guidance on that order on September 15.
NOTE: Several California localities may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, and as summarized in these FAQs, “unvaccinated state workers must begin serial testing and continue mask-wearing indoors in public spaces. . . . The plan is effective Sept. 20, 2021.”
The Colorado Department of Corrections, Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Department of Human Services announced that agency staff members and other state employees who interact with vulnerable populations and populations living in congregate living settings will be required to be vaccinated. The staff members included in the mandate for CDOC and CDPHE will have until September 30 to receive the first dose of the vaccine and are required to be fully vaccinated by October 31. CDHS staff will be on a staggered rollout by facility with fully vaccinated dates between October 31 and November 14.
On August 30, the Board of Health announced that it adopted emergency regulations mandating that all employees, direct contractors, and support staff of licensed healthcare settings receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 30 and be fully vaccinated no later than October 31. The rule also requires healthcare facilities to hire only fully vaccinated workers after October 31.
In addition, per an August 31 announcement and amended public health order, the CDPHE added a vaccination requirement applicable to state contractors (including subcontractors) and their workers if they physically enter state facilities. Such workers must receive their first dose by September 30 and must be fully vaccinated by October 31. Contractors and workers who do not provide proof of vaccination will be considered unvaccinated and will not be permitted to access state facilities but may provide remote services.
NOTE: At least one Colorado locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, state law as amended by Executive Order No. 13A, the Department of Public Health "plans to require that all unvaccinated nursing home staff statewide receive weekly testing for COVID-19."
Moreover, as explained by the governor and pursuant to Executive Order 13B, by September 7, all employees working at long-term care facilities: (i) must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19; (ii) must have received a first dose and have either received a second dose or have an appointment for the second dose; or (iii) must have been exempted from vaccination. On September 3, the governor issued Executive Order 13F, which extends the deadline for these workers to September 27 (matching the below requirement for childcare and schools).
Per Executive Order No. 13D (see subsequent order below, however), all state employees, as well as staff of all childcare facilities and preK-12 schools statewide, must receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27. Those who do not get vaccinated due to certain exemptions will be required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. State hospital and long-term care employees will not have the option of being tested in lieu of vaccination.
On September 10, the governor announced that he issued Executive Order No. 13G, which "replaces and clarifies" Executive Order No. 13D. Order No. 13G does not change the substance or timelines of the previous order and still requires that all Connecticut state employees and staff of all childcare facilities and preK-12 schools statewide receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27, 2021. Those who do not get vaccinated due to certain exemptions will be required to test for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. However, state hospital and long-term care employees do not have the option of testing in lieu of vaccination.” The order also lists the facilities with employees or contract workers affected by the mandate and “clarifies contractors’ obligation to verify the vaccination and testing status of the workers that they provide to state agencies, school boards, or childcare facilities.”
NOTE: At least one Connecticut locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, beginning September 30, staff in long-term care and other healthcare facilities will be required to provide proof of vaccination or undergo regular testing. The requirements will be formalized by the end of the month and will be available here. State employees will be required to provide proof of vaccination or undergo regular testing for COVID-19. Additional information will be provided to state employees by the Delaware Department of Human Resources.
District of Columbia
Per the mayor’s announcement and Order 2021-099, "all employees, contractors, interns and grantees of the Government of the District of Columbia must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19" by September 19. The order also applies to new hires for vacancies posted on or after August 14. Employees who remain unvaccinated (even if exempted) will be required to undergo weekly testing. Moreover, all healthcare workers in the District must receive at least the first dose of a vaccine by September 30 (except those individuals that may be exempt due to religious beliefs or medical conditions).
In addition, per a September 20 announcement, all adults who are regularly in schools and child care centers facilities in the District must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1. There will be no test-out option. Order 2021-109 formalizes that announcement and lists the categories of people who are covered by the requirement, including adults involved in teaching, administration, athletics (including student athletes), tech support, social work, school buses, security, janitorial works, and busing.
NOTE: At least one Florida locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, and this emergency proclamation, beginning August 16, “all State and county employees must provide their vaccination status to their department, office or agency. If they cannot provide proof of vaccination, they will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing.”
On September 9, Governor Ige announced that he signed “an executive order that requires contractors and visitors at state facilities and on state property to provide their vaccination or testing status prior to entry.” Executive Order No. 21-07 requires state agencies to “develop and implement policies to carry out [the] order no later than September 13.” Contractors will be required: (1) to identify employees accessing state facilities and attest to each individual’s vaccination status; (2) to verify on a weekly basis that employees who are not fully vaccinated have been tested once or twice a week; (3) to ensure that employees who are not fully vaccinated do not “enter, work, or provide services in any State facilities unless the employee obtains a negative test result;” and (4) if not otherwise required, to “ensure that all employees, whether fully vaccinated, unvaccinated, or partially vaccinated, will wear a mask the entire time they are present in any State facility and physically distance themselves from others.”
NOTE: At least one Hawaii locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, vaccinations will be required for state employees working in state-operated congregate settings, including state prisons and veterans homes, as of October 4.
The governor further announced that, as of September 5, the state will require additional individuals to be vaccinated or submit to testing at least once a week, including preschool through 12 teachers and staff; higher education personnel; and higher education students. In addition, “[t]o lower the number of breakthrough cases that require hospital admission, the majority of whom are 65 and over or immunocompromised, all healthcare workers, including workers at public and private nursing homes, must get vaccinated.”
On August 26, the governor issued Executive Order 2021-20 to formalize the requirements for these groups.
On September 3, the governor announced a two-week extension of the September 5 deadline for mandatory vaccinations: "All healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all P-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students will now be required to receive an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 19, 2021.” Executive Order 2021-22 formalized that change. The state also released these FAQs about the order.
On September 17, the governor issued Executive Order 2021-23, which, among other things, extends the deadline for the vaccine mandate as applicable to state employees at state-owned or operated congregate facilities as well as to contractors and vendors who work at such facilities. Those workers must receive their first dose (or only dose, if a single-dose vaccine) no later than October 14 and their second dose by November 18.
NOTE: At least one Illinois locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, “the cabinet will strongly encourage all contractors and state employees working in these state-operated facilities be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1, unless there is a religious or medical reason they cannot be vaccinated. If any of the staff in these facilities is unvaccinated, they will be tested at least twice weekly for their safety and the safety of the Kentuckians they serve.”
NOTE: At least one Louisiana locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, an Emergency Rule will require certain healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated for COVID by October 1. “Health care workers” Includes individuals employed by a hospital, multi-level health care facility, home health agency, nursing facility, residential care facility, and intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities that is licensed by the State of Maine. The emergency rule also requires those employed by emergency medical service organizations or dental practices to be vaccinated for COVID.
On September 2, the governor announced that enforcement of the vaccine mandate for health care workers will not begin until October 29, “providing an additional month for health care workers to complete their vaccination protocol."
On September 17, the Maine Department of Labor announced that, in response to the agency’s request, the U.S. Department of Labor informed the state that the forthcoming federal OSHA COVID-19 vaccine mandate (per the president’s directive) will apply to public sector employers in Maine, including state, county, and local governments and public school systems, pursuant to Maine’s state OSHA plan.
Per the governor’s announcement, the Department of Health issued an Amended Directive and Order Regarding Vaccination Matters, which requires all employees of the state’s nursing homes and all employees of Maryland hospitals to show proof of vaccination, or adhere to ongoing COVID-19 screening and testing. The first dose must be received by September 1. The Directive and Order is effective until December 21 at 11:59 p.m. or when the federal Determination that a Public Health Emergency Exists Nationwide as the Result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus is terminated, whichever condition comes first.
NOTE: At least one Maryland locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, and this public health order, Massachusetts plans to implement a vaccine mandate for staff at certain non-state operated skilled nursing facilities as well as for staff at two Soldiers’ Homes. Covered “[p]ersonnel includes all individuals employed directly or by contract by the LTC provider. All unvaccinated personnel are to receive a first dose of a two-dose series by September 1, 2021; and be fully vaccinated by October 10, 2021.” The State Department of Public Health issued updated Guidance Memorandum regarding COVID-19 personnel vaccination requirement to nursing home administrators.
Per the governor’s announcement and an Executive Order 595, all Executive Department employees must provide proof they have been fully vaccinated on or before October 17 or be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The policy applies to both employees working in-person and those who are teleworking.
On September 1, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced that it planned to expand the previously-announced vaccine requirement applicable to nursing home staff “to all staff at rest homes, assisted living residences (ALRs), hospice programs and to home care workers (HCWs) providing in-home, direct care services, under a state contract or state program.” Under the proposal, all covered personnel will be required to provide proof of vaccination by October 31, unless they qualify for a limited medical or religious exemption. News outlets report that, at a September 8 meeting, the Massachusetts Public Health Council unanimously approved that proposal; minutes of the meeting will appear here .
On September 24, the Department of Public Health released an updated guidance memo "to inform nursing homes about how to ensure all personnel are fully vaccinated, report vaccination data for their facility and explain the enforcement action for facilities who do not comply pursuant to the amendments to 105 CMR 150.000, Standards for Long-Term Care Facilities." Also on September 24, the department issued a guidance memo with similar information for hospice programs.
NOTE: At least one Massachusetts locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, "state agency employees will be required to show proof of vaccination or participate in regular testing before returning to the workplace,” by September 8. “Employees who are not vaccinated will be required to receive a negative COVID-19 test at least once a week in order to work on-site at all public workplaces around the state.”
NOTE: At least one Minnesota locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
NOTE: At least one Mississippi locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
NOTE: At least one Missouri locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
NOTE: Under a Montana law enacted in 2021, as discussed in these FAQs, employers in the state generally may not mandate any vaccine allowed under an emergency use authorization or any vaccine undergoing safety trials. Moreover, the law prohibits employers from refusing or barring an individual from employment or from making compensation decisions based on the individual’s vaccination status.
Per the governor’s announcement, as of August 15, 2021, state government “employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to take weekly COVID-19 tests and proof of testing and results must be submitted to their human resources officer or department supervisor.” The testing protocol will be retired for any state government workplace that reaches a 70% vaccination rate.
On September 2, the Board of Health announced that, in an emergency meeting to be held on September 10, it would “review COVID-19 vaccination requirements for Nevada Department of Health and Human Services and Nevada Department of Corrections employees working in certain programs." Following that meeting, the Board of Health announced its approval of emergency regulations (also available here; found in the meeting agenda) requiring all “State of Nevada staff who work with vulnerable populations in state-operated, licensed health care settings or state-operated detention facilities” to be fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021. “Employees, contractors and State employees who transfer to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or the Department of Corrections (NDOC) will be required to follow the new requirement,” along with new hires (who must receive their first shot prior to their start date).
On September 14, the governor announced that he signed the Board’s emergency regulations, which will be effective for 120 days.
Per the governor’s announcement, and Executive Order No. 252, “all workers in certain state and private health care facilities and high-risk congregate settings will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be subject to COVID-19 testing at minimum one to two times per week. . . . Health care facilities and other settings covered by the requirement will have until September 7, 2021 for all employees to come into full compliance with the vaccine mandate.”
The governor announced on August 23 that he signed Executive Order No. 253 "requiring all preschool to Grade 12 school personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18, 2021 or be subject to COVID-19 testing at minimum one to two times per week." The order covers "[c]ontractors, providers, and any other individuals performing work in preschool to Grade 12 settings whose job duties require them to make regular visits to such covered settings, including volunteers." Building on Order No. 252, the governor further announced that “[a]ll state employees – including those at state agencies, authorities, and public colleges and universities – are required to complete a full vaccination course or undergo regular testing at a minimum of once to twice each week,” with full compliance required by October 18.
On September 20, the governor issued Executive Order No. 264, which, among other things, requires all child care center personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1 or be subject to COVID-19 testing one to two times per week.
Per the governor’s announcement, as well as Executive Order 2021-045 and Executive Order 2021-046, “all state employees [must] either be fully vaccinated or otherwise submit to regular COVID-19 testing. Under the order, state employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 shall be required to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test at least once every two weeks. State employees who are not fully vaccinated, under the order, must wear a facemask when indoors during the course and scope of their employment — with minor exceptions for eating and drinking.”
On August 17, the Department of Health issued a Public Health Emergency Order, which requires for all workers in certain medical close-contact congregate settings – including hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile justice facilities, rehabilitation facilities, state correctional facilities and more – to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (with limited exceptions). Unvaccinated individuals who do not qualify for an exemption must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within 10 days of August 17, and their second dose, as needed, within 40 days of receiving the first shot. Those individuals must provide documentation to their supervisor or the operator of the facility in which they contract or work. Anyone granted an exemption by the operator of a hospital or congregate care facility must provide documentation of COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis. The Emergency Order also requires that, effective August 23, all workers at private, public, and charter schools in the state who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who are unwilling to provide proof of vaccination to their respective supervisors must provide proof of a COVID-19 test on a weekly basis.
Subsequently, on September 15, the Department of Health released an Amended Public Health Emergency Order, superseding the above order and addressing requirements for workers in schools, hospitals, and congregate care settings. The order also amends reporting requirements for hospital operators.
Per Governor Cuomo’s announcement, “patient-facing healthcare workers at state-run hospitals will be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Labor Day. There will not be an option to be tested in lieu of vaccination for these patient-facing healthcare workers.” Further, “all New York State employees . . . will be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Labor Day. State employees who do not get vaccinated will be required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.” The governor also announced that “MTA and Port Authority employees working in New York facilities will be required to be vaccinated . . . or be tested weekly.”
In addition, the governor announced that all healthcare workers in the state, including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities (e.g., nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings), will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday, September 27. To implement the move, the State Department of Health issued a Section 16 Order (Order for Summary Action) on August 18, with further details about the requirement and its limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons. A formal emergency rule concerning the prevention of COVID-19 transmission by healthcare facilities also was released on September 15. That rule, which is set to expire on November 23, requires certain healthcare entities (hospitals, home health agencies, certain home care programs, hospices, and adult care facilities) to require personnel, including contract staff and volunteers, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 absent some exemption.
Per Governor Hochul’s August 31 announcement, she "will be working with localities, the state health department and the Public Health and Health Planning Council in the days ahead to put in place mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated public and charter school employees, and to establish a vaccination requirement for all staff at state-regulated facilities and congregate settings." The governor further announced on September 2 that “the Public Health and Health Planning Council passed an emergency regulation and the Health Commissioner issued a determination requiring all teachers, administrators and other school employees to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing unless they show proof of vaccination, with either a CDC vaccine card or the Excelsior Pass. . . . The emergency regulation, which authorizes the Commissioner to require weekly testing or proof of vaccine, will apply to all schools in New York State until it is no longer necessary as described in the language of the regulation."
NOTE: At least one New York locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement and Executive Order 224 (as extended in Executive Order 229), summarized in these FAQs, state government employees (cabinet agency) who are not vaccinated will be required to wear masks and undergo weekly testing as of September 1.
NOTE: At least one North Carolina locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, the Oregon Health Authority will issue a rule that will require “weekly COVID-19 testing for personnel in health care settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in health care settings, which can be waived with a proof of vaccination.” Per a subsequent announcement by the governor, Oregon’s vaccination requirement for health care workers will no longer have a testing alternative. Health care workers will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18 or 6 weeks after full FDA approval, whichever is later.
In addition, per the governor’s August 10 announcement, "all State of Oregon executive branch employees will be required to be fully vaccinated on or before October 18, or six weeks after a COVID-19 vaccine receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, whichever is later. . . . Individuals unable to be vaccinated due to disability or sincerely held religious belief may be able to qualify for an exception, as required by state and federal law. State of Oregon employees will not have the option of weekly testing instead of showing proof of vaccination." On August 13, the governor issued Executive Order No. 21-29. Per an agreement with their union, some state employees have until November 30 to comply.
Health officials announced that the Secretary of State published mandatory vaccination rules for healthcare providers and staff, and for K-12 school employees (including staff and volunteers) on August 25.
NOTE: At least one Oregon locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, "commonwealth employees in state health care facilities and high-risk congregate care facilities will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 7, 2021. Individuals who are not vaccinated will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Additionally, beginning September 7, all new external hires in these facilities must be vaccinated before commencing employment.”
NOTE: At least one Pennsylvania locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Per the governor’s announcement, and Executive Order 2021-058 (available here), all public employees must receive their first dose of the vaccine by August 16 and complete vaccination by September 30. “All non-vaccinated employees (exempt or non-exempt) must bring a negative COVID-19 test result weekly or a positive result with medical certification that it is not contagious.”
According to news reports, and Executive Order 2021-062, the governor announced that the vaccination requirement also will extend to government contractors, the hospitality sector, and all health facility workers.
In addition, per the governor’s August 11 announcement and Executive Order 2021-063, compulsory vaccination also will apply to employees working in (among other things) restaurants, fast food restaurants, food courts, bars, stadiums, cafeterias, theaters, cinemas, convention and activity centers, and places that sell prepared meals. Employees must receive the first dose by August 23, and the second (if needed) by October 7. Unvaccinated employees must present weekly negative or recovery test results.
The governor further extended vaccination requirements on August 19, per Executive Order 2021-064. The order requires gyms, beauty salons, barber shops, spas, childcare centers, casinos, and markets to ensure their employees and contractors are vaccinated, with one dose completed by August 30 and the second dose completed by October 15. Exempted employees must undergo weekly testing or provide a medical certification that they have already recovered from a prior infection. As of August 30, these businesses must also require customers to show proof of vaccination, a negative test result, proof of recovery from a prior infection – or they must reduce their operating capacity to 50%.
According to news outlets, the governor announced that employees at “state-licensed health care centers” will be required to be fully vaccinated no later than October 1. On August 17, the Department of Health announced that it adopted an emergency rule requiring all health care workers and health care providers to be vaccinated by October 1. The rule also sets forth safety measures to be utilized by unvaccinated personnel in the interim: “[p]rior to October 1st, any worker in a RIDOH-licensed healthcare facility who is not vaccinated is required to wear a face mask and be tested at least twice weekly.” The rule is scheduled to expire on December 14, 2021.
The Rhode Island Department of Health issued FAQs concerning its vaccine mandate, which applies to “[a]ll state health care workers at RIDOH-licensed state health care facilities (Eleanor Slater Hospital, the State Health Laboratories and the Veterans Home) . . . as well as licensed health care providers at all other state facilities.” Vaccinations for covered healthcare workers must be completed by October 1. There is an exemption for medical reasons, but not for religious reasons.
Thereafter, on September 22, officials announced a new enforcement strategy for the vaccination requirement for healthcare workers. While health care workers are subject to enforcement action if they are unvaccinated by the deadline, “[i]f there is a risk to quality of care and an unvaccinated worker must continue to work beyond October 1 to mitigate that risk, the employer has 30 days to ensure that role is fulfilled by a fully vaccinated healthcare worker.” The press release notes that further information about these requirements, “including information on deadlines for the submission of data and COVID-19 Vaccination Corrective Action Plans, will be shared directly with healthcare leadership across Rhode Island in the coming days. Plans will be due on October 1.”
NOTE: At least one South Carolina locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
NOTE: Utah Code 26-28-101 provides that a governmental entity may not require, directly or indirectly, that an individual receive an emergency COVID-19 vaccine unless the individual is both acting in a public health or medical setting and required to receive vaccinations in order to perform the employee’s assigned duties and responsibilities, or pursuant to a non-discretionary requirement under federal law.
Per the governor’s announcement, and Executive Directive No. 18, “Virginia will require its state workers to show proof that they are fully vaccinated or be tested for COVID-19 every week. This policy . . . will go into effect on September 1.”
NOTE: At least one Virginia locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
As reported in news outlets, further discussed here, the governor announced that state employees who work with vulnerable populations – such as staff at correctional facilities, the veterans’ home, and a psychiatric hospital – must either be fully vaccinated or face regular testing or some other sort of “exit ramp.”
In addition, on September 8, the governor announced that state officials “have now notified the State Employees Union that, effective September 15th, all State of Vermont executive branch employees will be required to attest that they’re vaccinated, or be subject to at least weekly testing and mandatory masking at work.”
Per the governor’s announcement, and Proclamation 21-14, the state adopted “a requirement for most state workers, and on-site contractors and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. State employees and workers in private health care and long-term care settings will have until October 18 to be fully vaccinated.” Proclamation 21-14.1 expands the prior order to include all employees, on-site contractors and on-site volunteers at all public and private K-12 schools, public and private 2- and 4-year institutions of higher education, and early learning and child care programs serving children from multiple households. Proclamation 20-12.5, released August 27, further refines requirements for higher education staff, faculty, contractors, students, and volunteers.
The governor released these FAQs, which add that the vaccination proclamation applies to “employees in private sector health care and in long term care settings including but not limited to nursing homes, adult family homes, assisted living, enhanced services facilities, RTFs, and other treatment facilities.” Those FAQs were updated in early September 2021.
The governor also announced that a COVID vaccine will be required for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education, K -12 educators, school staff, coaches, bus drivers, school volunteers and others working in school facilities. They will have until October 18 to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment; there will be no test-out option. The requirement includes public, private and charter schools. Unions may bargain with school districts to negotiate time off to receive the vaccine or recover from symptoms of the vaccine. There are limited exceptions under law that employees may apply for (e.g., legitimate medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs). Individuals who refuse to get vaccinated will be subject to dismissal. See also: COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for K-12 School Employees: FAQs (most recently updated on September 3).
On September 8, the state released updated COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement FAQs for Child Care, Early Learning, and Youth Development Providers.
On September 27, the governor announced the release of an amended proclamation, Proclamation 21-14.2, which extends the aforementioned vaccine requirement for state agencies to also "include on-site contractors who contract with the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Commissioner of Public Lands and the Department of Natural Resources, the Office of Insurance Commissioner, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction."
A series of FAQs about the various requirements can be found here.
NOTE: Some Washington localities may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
On September 14, the state Department of Administration announced a new weekly testing requirement for all executive branch employees, interns, and contractors, effective October 18. The requirement will apply to all employees who have either not submitted their vaccination status or reported their status as not fully vaccinated. More information, including FAQs, can be found here.
NOTE: At least one Wisconsin locality may have provisions concerning mandatory employee vaccination. Please check with your Littler attorney for additional information about your particular jurisdiction.
Because the COVID-19 situation is dynamic, employers should consult with counsel for the latest developments and updated general and industry-specific guidance.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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