HR Policy Webinar Breaks Down President Biden’s Vaccine Mandates

September 17, 2021

HR Policy Association staff and members examined the many issues and questions facing employers as a result of President Biden's vaccine mandates for larger private sector employers and federal contractors, including talent implications and issues regarding testing and proof of vaccination.

HR Policy CEO Tim Bartl noted that “HR Policy supports the Biden administration’s push to eliminate the pandemic and equally supports our members’ efforts, including vaccine mandates,” but that the White House mandate “raises a number of issues…with substantial questions and implications about how the federal mandate gets executed.”

Carolyn Wiesenhahn, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at CVS Health offered a key perspective on how CVS has navigated its vaccine policy and the necessary legal and policy strategies associated with mandating vaccination.  “Our main guiding principle [in shaping a COVID-19 response and vaccine policy] is to protect the health and safety of our employees.  So, the right approach for us was to require vaccination.”  Ms. Wiesenhahn gave illustrative examples of how CVS has tackled different issues related to its vaccine policy and noted it has yet to see any significant attrition due to the policy.  

HR Policy staff, including Senior Labor and Employment Counsel Roger King and Senior Vice President Ani Huang surveyed a variety of issues facing employers, including:

  • Elements likely to be included in the ETS and directives for federal contractors

  • Types of proof required for vaccination and test results for purposes of compliance 

  • Testing costs, who will be required to pay, and any shifting of such costs onto employees

  • Types of testing that will be allowed under the ETS, including at-home testing, and whether the time spent testing will be considered compensable time under wage and hour laws

  • Choices for employers when facing employees who refuse to get vaccinated and/or undergo testing

  • Talent attrition implications of vaccine mandates

  • Potential legal challenges to the ETS, and interplay with state laws banning vaccine mandates

Outlook:  HR Policy is closely monitoring this developing situation and will update members as new information becomes available.  Guidance on vaccine mandates for federal contractors is expected at the end of next week, and HR Policy will provide further updates once the guidance is released.  In the meantime, members can find the following resources here: