Federal Vaccine Mandate Imminent as HR Policy Explores Company Strategies

October 15, 2021

With special insights from Tyson Foods, Inc., the Association examined in a member-wide webinar how companies are approaching workforce vaccine requirements.  Meanwhile, OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard for large employers took a significant step toward being issued, suggesting the mandate could be published sooner rather than later.

Tyson Foods' Johanna Söderström, Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer, and Hector Gonzalez, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, offered an in-depth look at their vaccine mandate strategy  offered an in-depth look at their vaccine mandate strategies and answered questions from HR Policy members joining the call. Topics discussed included:

  • Communication strategies for employees,
  • Handling reasonable accommodation requests,
  • Compliance tracking strategies and technology, 
  • Employment decisions for employees without exemptions who refuse vaccination, 
  • Vaccine recordkeeping,
  • Education and outreach for employees regarding vaccination, and
  • Regional effects. 

HR Policy staff also briefly discussed new guidance published by three agencies regarding vaccine wellness and incentive programs.  The guidance, published last week by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury, clarifies that employers may lawfully offer health care premium discounts or surcharges tied to vaccination, subject to certain wellness program rules and requirements.  HR Policy’s full summary of the guidance and what it means for employer programs can be found here.

ETS Imminent:  OSHA has submitted its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which will require private sector employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccination or testing, to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the penultimate step in releasing the ETS to the public.  Although it is possible that it could be longer, the regulatory review is expected to take no more than a few days, meaning the ETS could be released early next week.  It is expected that employers will have until late November or early December to comply with the ETS requirements.  HR Policy will provide further details as soon as the ETS is released.

OMB Briefings:  Meanwhile, HR Policy staff have participated in several briefings and meetings with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding both the federal contractor vaccine mandate and the forthcoming ETS.  While OMB did not provide many new clarifying details, a new set of FAQs addressing questions related to the vaccine mandate for federal contractors will be published on the Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce website including on vaccine documentation.