HR Hot Topics – December, 2021: Updates on COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

We’re coming to the end of another crazy year and I thought I’d close out our 2021 HR Hot Topics with an update on the various COVID-19 vaccine mandates. There are actually four different mandates on the books right now, at least three of which are ‘stayed’ (on hold pending a court decision) at some level. The one you are probably most familiar with is the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard that required employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccination or offer a weekly testing option with mask mandates for most unvaccinated staff. Timelines for implementation began in early December, but the whole rule is currently on pause nationwide pending a decision by the 6th Circuit Court.

The other vaccine mandate that affects more of my clientele is the one issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This rule also requires employees of qualifying employers to be vaccinated, but unlike the OSHA rule, this one is based on workplace type vs. employee headcount. While most out-patient doctor’s offices (physicians, optometrists, dentists, etc.) are not covered under this CMS rule, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, and rehabilitation facilities are. This mandate has also been stayed by the courts in several states, but currently Michigan is not one of them.