Federal Government, Large Companies Roll Out Stricter Vaccination Policies

Doctor putting a sticker on a woman after getting her COVID-19 vaccine

President Joe Biden announced on July 29 that federal employees will be required to confirm that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to frequent testing for COVID-19. Additionally, some large employers—such as Facebook and Google—will require workers to get vaccinated before returning to the office due to the surge in coronavirus cases.

"We are now faced with a much more transmissible strain of this virus—the Delta variant," the White House said. "The good news is that we are prepared for this. We know how to stop it: Get more people vaccinated."

Biden announced that employers covered by the American Rescue Plan will be reimbursed for providing employees paid time off to take their family members to get vaccinated. He also urged state and local governments to give $100 incentive payments to anyone who gets vaccinated.

We've rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets on the news.

New Policy for Federal Employees

Biden held a press conference to outline "the next steps in our effort to get more Americans vaccinated and combat the spread of the Delta variant." Federal employees and onsite contractors will be required to attest that they are vaccinated or complete other steps, such as getting tested once or twice a week for COVID-19, wearing a mask while working (regardless of geographic location), and keeping physically distant from other employees and visitors. The federal government employs more than 4 million workers—half of whom work in the federal civilian workforce. 

White House officials said the policy will closely align with recent state, local and private employer policies aimed at creating safer workplaces and combating the surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant.

The Biden administration said it "will encourage employers across the private sector to follow this strong model."

(The White House)

Google and Facebook Revamp Policies

Google announced that the company will move its return-to-office date from September to October in light of the uptick in COVID-19 cases. The tech giant will also soon require workers at its U.S. worksites to get vaccinated before working onsite and plans to later extend that requirement to locations in other countries. Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai hopes the policy will give workers "greater peace of mind as offices open."

Facebook also said it will require vaccination for in-person work at U.S. campuses, and the company will incorporate local requirements into its plans for each location. Facebook's head of HR, Lori Goler, said the company has a process for working with employees who need a medical accommodation.  

(The Wall Street Journal)

Netflix to Require Vaccination for Actors and Some Crew

Netflix is the first major Hollywood studio to roll out a vaccination mandate for all U.S. productions. The policy will apply to all actors and any crew that has contact with them. The company will make limited exceptions for workers who refuse a vaccine based on age, religion or medical conditions.

(CNBC)

Restaurants to Ask Workers and Customers for Proof

A number of New York City restaurants plan to require staff and indoor diners to show proof of vaccination status. Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer told CNBC that the company's full-service restaurants will implement the requirement on Sept. 7. "We know right now that the vaccine works, and it's time to make sure that this economy continues to move forward," he said. "There's just no going back."

(Eater)

More Local Mandates and Pleas from Industry Groups

Several state and local governments, including California, New York State and New York City, announced mandates earlier this week for some health care and public employees to either show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. "As the state's largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, and we are encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Additionally, health care and restaurant associations are urging their members to mandate vaccination. "Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures," according to a joint letter signed by more than 50 health care associations, including the American Medical Association.  

(SHRM Online)

Return to Mask-Wearing as the COVID-19 Delta Variant Spreads?

Workplace safety guidelines from federal, state and local authorities are rapidly changing, and employers may want to update their policies accordingly. Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged vaccinated people in counties with high rates of COVID-19 transmission to resume wearing masks indoors. "We still largely are in a pandemic of the unvaccinated," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky during a press conference on July 27. But she cautioned that, in rare cases, fully vaccinated people may experience breakthrough infections and could be contagious. 

In mid-June, the CDC reported an average of about 12,000 new COVID-19 cases each day, but the rate recently surpassed 40,000 a day on average. "An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths," according to the CDC. The agency said that vaccines are the best protection against variants. 

(SHRM Online)

[Want to learn more about COVID-19 and workplace safety? Join us at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Sept. 9-12 in Las Vegas and virtually.]

How to Develop a COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Policy

Employers grappling with whether to require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases may benefit from the process that Houston Methodist, an academic medical center comprising eight hospitals in Houston, used to make that decision. On March 31, the organization mandated that their 26,000 employees, with some exceptions, be vaccinated, making it the first U.S. hospital system to do so. On June 12, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by 117 workers who challenged the mandate. "With our policy having stood this legal test, we believe that other employers can use our process for developing a vaccination policy of their own," according to Houston Methodist leaders. They said this 7-step process can help employers decide whether to mandate vaccinations.

(SHRM Online)

Visit SHRM's resource hub page on COVID-19 Vaccination Resources.

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