Newsletter from Integrated Benefit Solutions
What the Biden Vaccine Mandate Means for
Recently, the White
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to draft
an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for private employers.
Soon, employers with 100 or more employees (likely measured
companywide, not by location) will need to adapt their vaccine
policies and enforce one of the following:
employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19
unvaccinated employees to produce evidence of a negative
COVID-19 test each week
The rule will also reportedly require large
employers to provide their workers with paid time off to get
vaccinated and recover from any vaccination-related side effects
All aspects of this upcoming rule are subject to modification
until OSHA publishes the rule. The ETS is expected to come in the
weeks ahead; however, an actual release date is uncertain. Once
an ETS is issued, it can only remain in effect for six months
before a permanent standard must replace it.
Employers Can Do Now
Here are some actions employers can consider to
prepare for the mandate:
whether weekly negative testing will be allowed as an
alternative to COVID-19 vaccination.
how to handle accommodation requests for those seeking
out systems to adequately and
confidentially track employee vaccination statuses.
for potential staffing shortages or scheduling changes to
afford employees time to get vaccinated.
This list is nonexhaustive,
as certain considerations will be unique to individual employers.
Employers should stay tuned for specific details to be announced
by OSHA shortly.
Impact of the HIPAA Privacy Rule on COVID-19 Vaccine
On Sept. 30, 2021,
the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued frequently
asked questions (FAQs) on the application of the
Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy
Rule on COVID-19 vaccination and the workplace.
the FAQ Guidance
The FAQs provide that the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not prohibit any
person (an individual or an entity, such as a business)—including
HIPAA-covered entities and business associates—from asking
whether an individual has received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Rather, the Privacy Rule regulates how and when a covered entity
or its business associate may use or disclose protected health
information (PHI), including information about an individual’s
In addition, the Privacy Rule does not prevent any individual
from disclosing whether he or she has been vaccinated against
COVID-19 or any other disease. The Privacy Rule does not apply to
individuals’ disclosures about their own health information.
The Privacy Rule also does not prohibit an employer from
requiring an employee to disclose whether they have received a
COVID-19 vaccine to the employer, clients
or other parties. The Privacy Rule does not apply to employment
records and does not regulate what information can be requested
from employees as part of the terms and conditions of employment.
However, documentation or other confirmation of vaccination must
be kept confidential and stored separately from the employee’s
personnel files under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities
In addition, other federal or state laws do address terms and
conditions of employment. Similarly, other state or federal laws
address whether individuals are required to disclose whether they
have received a vaccine under certain circumstances.
Complex Health Benefits Can Hinder Employee Success
Health care is
rarely straightforward for the average consumer. Many individuals
need help making sense of their options both during open
enrollment and when receiving health services. In fact, 8 out of
10 people said they faced challenges when receiving care,
according to a recent
study from Quantum Health.
According to the study, the vast majority of consumers have
reported facing hurdles in the past two years when receiving care.
These challenges include issues understanding coverage levels,
locating providers and navigating the
insurance claims process. Issues like these were compounded for
individuals with chronic conditions—90% of whom said they faced
additional challenges, such as making sense of diagnoses or test
Employers spend a lot of time tailoring their health benefits to
ensure they meet the needs of their employees. But, if only half
of those employees can effectively use such benefits—let alone
understand them—then employers may need to refocus their efforts.
One of the best ways to help reduce employee confusion and
maximize benefits value is through education.
Reach out to discuss a benefits communication plan and secure
health literacy resources for your employees.
Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Despite decades of attention in
the media and courts, sexual harassment remains a significant and
costly problem in today's business environment. Learn how to prevent sexual harassment in your
workplace by watching the video below.
For additional HR guidance, visit our Human