What you need to know about the Biden Administration’s new vaccine mandate

By Gustav Anderson

Nov. 5, 2021


  • The Biden Administration issued a new vaccine mandate on Thursday, Nov. 4

  • The mandate includes two different rules, one from OSHA and one from CMS. Both have Jan. 4 deadlines.

  • Businesses must reassess how they track vaccination, testing, and PTO for their employees.


Back in September of this year, the Biden Administration announced a controversial vaccine mandate. On Thursday it released an update, explicitly outlining two new rules for U.S. businesses to follow heading into the new year. 

Here is what you need to know.

Rule #1

Issued by OSHA, businesses with more than 100 employees must require all their workers to be vaccinated or to provide weekly negative test results. The rule affects roughly 84 million workers across the United States. Here are some further details:

  • The deadline is Jan. 4. Businesses must ensure that all their employees are vaccinated or at least are willing to provide weekly negative test results before this date.
  • Employers are subject to fines up to $13,653 per willful violation of the mandate.
  • Unvaccinated employees must wear masks while at work.
  • Workers must receive paid time off to get vaccinated as well as sick leave if additional recovery time is needed.
  • Employers do not need to pay for weekly testing.
  • The federal rule will take precedence over any inconsistent state laws that deny employers the authority to require vaccination, masks, and testing.
  • While it is mostly up to employers to enforce these rules, OSHA does plan to conduct workplace inspections to check that employers are staying in compliance.

Rule #2

Beyond the OSHA mandate, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also issued a rule requiring 17 million people working in Medicare and Medicaid facilities to be fully vaccinated, with no weekly negative testing alternative. It will impact 76,000 federally funded healthcare facilities in the United States. Below are a few extra details:

  • All Medicare and Medicaid facilities must ensure their employees are completely vaccinated by a Jan. 4 deadline – the same deadline as the OSHA rule.
  • Facilities that do not comply could face fines, denial of funding, and possible termination from the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
  • Workers can apply for medical or religious exemptions

Going forward

With Biden’s new vaccine mandate comes the inevitable pushback. It’s a tale as old as…well 2020 I guess. 

While Republican lawmakers in various states have already begun drafting efforts to combat the requirements, the private sector is also raising concerns regarding supply chain issues in the cargo industry and labor shortages within healthcare. Regardless of where employers stand on the matter, the fact remains that thousands of dollars are on the line for non-compliance. As such, proper measures need to be taken to maintain a safe and organized workforce. 

Employers should reassess how they are currently tracking employee vaccinations and negative tests. Is there a system in place maintaining up-to-date records for each employee? Are managers automatically notified when a non-compliant employee is scheduled for a shift? Is there a compliance paper trail easily accessible to OSHA auditors when they come knocking? These are all important questions to consider when reviewing how well one’s workforce management system handles the new vaccine mandates.

Employers must also have a plan in place for how to tackle vaccination PTO and sick leave. Implementing specialty time off like this into scheduling processes and effectively tracking it for payroll can sometimes prove tricky without the right solutions in place. 

Interested in finding out more about how your business can prepare for the Jan. 4 deadline? We are here to help. Book a call with us today, or leave your email below and we’ll get back to you. 

Gustav is a communications officer with His past work includes media outreach for a Guinness World Record team and market research published by the University of Maine. He has a keen interest in storytelling, frontline labor issues, and all things relating to pigeons.


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