Federal Vaccine Mandates: Step-by-Step Compliance Guide for Community Action

This step-by-step compliance guide is intended to help the Community Action network navigate the employee vaccination mandates announced by OSHA, Head Start, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). We describe the planning process your CAA should consider as you develop and update your policies to reflect the new requirements. We also provide template policies and additional resources to assist CAAs in preparing for and implementing the mandates. We will update this resource as additional guidance is issued and legal developments arise.

1/13/22: The OSHA vaccine-or-test mandate has been blocked nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court. The CMS vaccine mandate has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and is currently in effect.

1/3/22: The Head Start Interim Final Rule establishing the Head Start vaccination and masking mandate has been preliminarily enjoined in 25 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Head Start, Early Head Start, and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grant recipients in those 25 states are not required to comply with the rule pending future developments in the litigation.

The OSHA ETS requires employers to report all “work-related” COVID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA, regardless of the amount of time between the exposure to COVID-19 in the work environment and the death or in-patient hospitalization. Employers must report each employee COVID-19 fatality to OSHA within 8 hours of learning about the fatality. Employers must also report each employee COVID-19 in-patient hospitalization to OSHA within 24 hours of learning about the in-patient hospitalization.

These requirements are similar to the OSHA requirements for reporting fatalities and hospitalizations under 29 CFR § 1904.39. The only difference is that under the ETS, employers are required to report a COVID-19 in-patient hospitalization or fatality that occurs at any time after a work-related exposure. Under § 1904.39, employers are only required to report fatalities that occur within 30 days of the work-related incident and in-patient hospitalizations that occur within 24 hours of the work-related incident (see § 1904.39(b)(6)). Those limits do not apply to the ETS’s reporting requirements.

Under 29 CFR § 1904.5 Determination of work-relatedness, an employer must consider an injury or illness to be “work-related” if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition. If the COVID-19 exposure event likely occurred within the employee’s work environment, and the subsequent illness led to either death or in-patient hospitalization, reporting of the incident would be required. Factors to consider when determining work-relatedness include the employee’s recent schedule or travel, as well as the frequency and duration of contact with other cases in the workplace.

The ETS’s reporting requirements apply to all employers covered by the COVID-19 ETS. Where an employer is required to report a fatality or in-patient hospitalization under both § 1904.39 and the ETS, a single report will fulfill both requirements.

Employers can report COVID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations by:

  • Calling the OSHA Area Office that is nearest to the site of the incident (see www.osha.gov/contactus/bystate);
  • Calling the OSHA toll-free telephone number, 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742); or
  • Submitting information through OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.

This resource is part of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Legal Training and Technical Assistance Center. It was created by CAPLAW in the performance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services, Cooperative Agreement Award Number 90ET0467-03-C3. Any opinion, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.