By Kate Devine-Elkins
Update: On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court blocked the OSHA vaccine mandate detailed below, but left in place the mandate for healthcare workers. See our updated blog post: The Supreme Court Has Ruled on Vaccine Mandates - Now What?
On November 4, 2021 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) regarding vaccine mandates. On the same day, President Biden’s administration released a fact sheet giving further details. These rules affect organizations with 100 or more employees and require them to either ensure their employees are vaccinated or create a plan for them to be tested at least on a weekly basis.
The new OSHA regulations around the vaccine mandate answer a few questions applicable employers have been asking:
When do employers need to start tracking vaccinations and testing efforts? As of December 5, 2021, employers must be in compliance with all regulations other than testing. Weekly testing requirements must be adhered to by January 4, 2022.
What requirements do employers have to help get their employees vaccinated? Employers must provide up to four (4) hours paid time off to receive each dose of the vaccination and paid sick leave to recover from any side effects.
Who bears the cost of testing if employers choose to make that an option? Employers are not required to pay for any costs associated with the testing, however they can voluntarily choose to do so. In some cases there may also be additional laws, regulations or negotiated agreements that may require employer payment.
What happens if my organization doesn’t comply with the OSHA rule? The penalties will follow the standard OSHA penalties of $13,653 for a single violation or $136,532 for willful actions.
Are COVID-19 boosters a part of the current ETS OSHA rule? At this time the rule only pertains to the initial dose(s) of the vaccine.
What additional requirements are covered? Employers are required to ensure all unvaccinated employees are masked.
Is there a vaccine requirement for healthcare workers? CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) requires all workers at healthcare facilities that participate in Medicare or Medicaid to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.
Do Federal Contractors have an updated deadline? Yes, to keep consistent, the deadline for Federal Contractors to be fully compliant has been extended to January 4, 2022.
What about litigation against the mandate? While there will likely be legal challenges, these guidelines supersede any other applicable state regulations.
There are many companies developing systems to help you track the vaccination status of your employees. If you don’t currently have a method in place and are a client of Equifax Workforce Solutions, a new attestation process will be available through our State Forms and Compliance Center service. Learn more here about this offering as well as our entire Compliance Center™ service that can help you stay on top of your employee documentation.
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