In early September, President Biden announced he was taking steps to get more Americans vaccinated and turn the tide on COVID-19.
On Thursday, the administration rolled out two of those steps — two different vaccine rules covering more than 100 million workers.
Under this emergency temporary standard, covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.
Here are the details:
Deadline is Jan. 4: The first rule, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, covers companies with 100 or more employees, applying to an estimated 84 million workers. Companies must ensure that their workers are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or that they test negative for COVID-19 at least once a week. The rule will take effect as soon as it’s published in the Federal Register.
Workers must get paid time off to get vaccinated: Under the OSHA rule, employers must pay workers for the time it takes to get vaccinated and provide sick leave for workers to recover from any side effects.
Employers don’t need to pay for testing: In a move that appears designed to push workers to choose vaccinations over testing, the rule does not require employers to pay for or provide testing to workers who decline the vaccine. However, collective bargaining agreements or other circumstances may dictate otherwise.
Unvaccinated people must wear masks: Unvaccinated workers must also wear face coverings while on the job.
Fines for Employers who violate these requirements: Employers who violate the rule can face fines of up to $13,653 per violation for serious violations and 10 times that for willful or repeated violations.
Health care workers don’t have testing option under separate rule: A second rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires some 17 million health care workers to be vaccinated by the same deadline, Jan. 4, but with no option for weekly testing in lieu of vaccination. The rule covers all employees — clinical and non-clinical — at about 76,000 health care facilities that receive federal funding from Medicare or Medicaid.
Earlier, Biden had ordered federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, with no testing option. Federal workers have until Nov. 22 to get the shots, while federal contractors have until Jan. 4.
HAVE MORE QUESTIONS? NEED HELP IMPLEMENTING THIS MANDATE?
- Vaccine & Testing Policies
- Vaccine exemption forms
- OSHA-Compliant COVID Mitigation and Prevention Plan
- Vaccination tracking software
Join the Barkley Compliance Team and Employment Law expert, Rodney Bolton from HR Bizz for a Q&A panel discussion to get complete details on the requirements, how we can help you develop, implement and enforce these requirements, and how to avoid the massive fines.