With cases once again surging across the US and vaccination numbers still hovering well below goals, President Biden announced on September 9, 2021 a six-pronged national strategy to combat the COVID Delta variant. Here are the 6 things you need to know …
Vaccine Mandate for Private Businesses
If your business has 100 or more employees, listen up. The President ordered the Department of Labor to issue an emergency rule requiring private employers with 100 or more employees to require all employees to either (A) get vaccinated; or (B) submit to weekly COVID testing. Citing the enormous success at large US companies which have voluntarily issued employee vaccination mandates, the President said that the private sector mandate was necessary to try and reach the nearly 80 million eligible Americans who have not gotten their first shot.
PTO for Employees to Receive and Recover from the Vaccine
To facilitate the private sector vaccination effort described above, the President also directed OSHA to issue an emergency rule requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to grant employees PTO for the time to receive the vaccination and recover from its after-effects. It was not clear whether an employee’s existing PTO or sick leave would satisfy the requirement, or if employers would have to grant extra PTO to all employees not yet vaccinated.
Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers
If you run a health care facility (which in this instance includes nursing homes, home health agencies, dialysis centers, and ambulatory surgical centers), and your organization receives Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements, your employees will be required to get vaccinated.
Financial Support for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
There is still $150 billion in loanable funds under the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides long-term, low-cost loans to small businesses. First, the maximum amount of loans will increase from $500,000 to $2 million. These loans may be used to hire and retain employees, pay off higher-interest debt, and purchase inventory and equipment. Payments on the EIDL loans will not begin until 2 years after a business receives the funds. Finally, to ensure that the smallest of small businesses have access to the remaining EIDL funds, the Small Business Administration (SBA) will implement an exclusive 30-day window within which only businesses applying for loans of $500,000 or less will have access.
Streamlining the PPP Loan Forgiveness Process
If yours is one of the 3.5 million businesses which received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $150,000 or less, soon it will become much easier to apply for loan forgiveness. Rather than borrowers applying for forgiveness with their PPP lenders, now the SBA will send pre-completed application forms for you to review and sign. After that, the SBA and lender will complete the forgiveness process. This will hopefully speed up the loan forgiveness process and help borrowers avoid costly principal and interest payments on their PPP loans while they wait for the forgiveness process to play out.
Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors & Subcontractors
In July of 2021, President Biden issued a vaccine mandate for federal workers. Now, there is a new Executive Order which will expand that mandate to include millions of private sector employees performing federal contracts. This would be implemented by requiring a clause in all new federal contracts and subcontracts at all tiers, and all existing federal contracts and subcontracts that are extended or renewed (the clause would be added to the extension/renewal paperwork). There will be certain exceptions to the mandate, and all further details will be clarified later by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.
Please note that there are some questions around the Department of Labor and OSHA’s authority to issue the rules impacting large private employers, which will likely mean that there will be challenges in court which may delay implementation. When/if the above are implemented, we can also assist you in navigating these new requirements and guidelines. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and subscribe to our newsletter to receive alerts on new blog posts on whichever topics you care most about! In the meantime, enjoy some of our other blog posts and videos on the coronavirus, bankruptcy, and more. Also, learn from our attorneys and from your neighbors by joining a learning community