Federal Vaccination Requirements: What They Mean for Organizations Returning to Onsite Work

Sasha Cassidy
November 4, 2021
Vaccine development in lab

When the US vaccine rollout began in December 2020, many organizations, public and private, projected a safe return to the office by late 2021. But with the rise in COVID-19 cases as a result of the Delta variant, millions of people put these plans on hold, pushed them back, or otherwise adjusted. As vaccination rates have gone up, however, leadership for both the public and private sector are looking to return to “normal” and bring employees back onsite en masse for the first time since March 2020.

What are the federal vaccination requirements?

The latest effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 comes in the form of an executive order issued on September 9, 2021 that mandates vaccination for federal employees and federal contractors and subcontractors. The US Department of Labor also announced on November 4, 2021, that as part of President Biden’s COVID-19 action plan, that by January 4, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will require any private employer with more than 100 employees to ensure their entire workforce is vaccinated or require weekly testing for unvaccinated staff—impacting 84 million private sector workers. In short, the executive order and President Biden’s COVID-19 plan are wide-reaching, impacting virtually any organization in America with more than 100 people on staff. 

The state of vaccine recommendations is evolving rapidly, with booster shots already rolling out to combat waning immunity and the recent FDA approval for mixing vaccine types. This blurs the definition of “fully vaccinated,” posing yet another logistical challenge for organizations looking to bring employees onsite and further emphasizing the need to effectively track vaccination status.

The federal government is emphasizing the need for management of onsite employee health and safety.

To maintain a safe and productive work environment, in light of the recent executive order and federal COVID-19 action plan, organizations will need to account for individual health and risk screenings for onsite employees, vaccination tracking, contact tracing, shift management, corporate policies, and the feasibility of remote work. To simplify this process, organizations should consider a solution to manage workforce readiness.

If your organization is undergoing a return to onsite work, consider managing workforce readiness by tracking the following critical data in a unified response hub: 

  • Vaccination status - Track employee intent to get vaccinated and vaccination status. 
  • Contact tracing - Track and respond to exposures and incidents with contact tracing and case management in keeping with CDC guidelines.
  • Case management - Manage exceptions, testing results, and positive cases, easing employee concerns.
  • Employee screening and certification - Provide employees, visitors, contractors, and anyone else onsite with a web or mobile interface for submitting and updating personal health and risk data.
  • Capacity - Streamline scheduling with defined capacity limits and allow employees to plan ahead and reserve their workspaces.

Ensuring employees are able to socially distance, report potential exposures, and provide vaccination details helps keep communication open between staff and leadership and sets a foundation for a safer return to work. 

Appian Workforce Safety: the intuitive way to manage workforce readiness.

To help businesses manage the safety of their return to work and maintain vigilance beyond the heights of the global pandemic, Appian created Workforce Safety. Appian Workforce Safety is the only solution with a unified, automated, and flexible approach for safely returning to onsite work and adjusting onsite operations based on workforce vaccination status data. The unified response hub gives administrators real-time capabilities to track employee health and vaccination insights, monitor incidents and contact tracing across facilities, automate return-to-work authorizations, and comply with company policies and government regulations.

Jeanette Cacciola, VP of Human Resources Operations at learning technology company HMH chose to implement Workforce Safety to ensure measures taken to keep employees safe were streamlined and organized.

“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our employees. We knew we needed a robust software solution to help us manage the complexities of returning people to the office. We chose Appian Workforce Safety because it’s easy to customize to our requirements, easy for our employees to use, and it centralizes all of the data we need while protecting the privacy of our employees’ personal information.”

With the recent and expected changes in vaccine requirements for both federal and private organizations, it’s crucial to effectively track and report on employee vaccination status and ensure office spaces aren’t too saturated with staff.