A few weeks ago, the Biden administration announced a new COVID19 vaccination initiative. It foreshadows that private employers can expect emergency rules from OSHA, the Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding mandatory employee vaccinations against COVID-19.
The OSHA rule would require that Employers with 100 or more employees will need to either:
Ensure their employees are vaccinated
Or alternatively require all unvaccinated employees to submit to mandatory weekly testing and provide weekly negative test results before showing up to work.
Federal contractors and most health care providers accepting Medicare or Medicaid funding will also be required to implement vaccine mandates.
The huge issue here for companies that you will need to TRACK THIS. Workday® can help. The OSHA rule is expected to come in the form of an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to be issued in “the coming weeks,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Guidance for federal contractors from the Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce is expected by Oct 8, 2021, and from CMS next month. September 10, the DOL and OSHA held a briefing session where they addressed some of the more pressing questions and issued the following guidance:
The ETS will require private sector employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccination or weekly testing of all employees. For the 100-employee threshold, employers must count all employees regardless of location.
Employers will need to offer paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects, but employers may choose to require employees to use existing PTO for these reasons.
The ETS is expected to include medical and religious exemptions.
These requirements will not apply to employees who are working strictly remotely and alone.
The ETS will address whether “full vaccination” is required and what proof of vaccination employers may accept.
Covered employers that are in violation of the ETS could face penalties of up to $14,000 per violation. It is unclear at this time what level of non-compliance will constitute a violation, that is a huge penalty, nonetheless.
An ETS is temporary, lasting six months before expiring or being replaced by a permanent OSHA standard. A permanent standard, if issued, would require a formal rulemaking process, including the notice and comment period bypassed with an ETS. Once issued, the ETS will have immediate effect in the 29 states where federal OSHA maintains jurisdiction. States with OSHA-approved state plans such as California, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky, may either adopt the ETS, or, within 15 to 30 days, implement their own rules containing “just-as-effective measures.”, which essentially means this will go into effect everywhere.
Some states will likely challenge the legality of the ETS, triggering OSHA to prove there is a “grave danger” to the workers of covered employers if the ETS is not immediately put in place. Even so, covered employers should start formulating plans to bring their companies into compliance with these new standards to avoid the prospect of penalties if these rulemakings survive the legal onslaught that surely awaits.
If you have questions regarding the federal government’s upcoming vaccine mandates or need assistance with your COVID-19 related policies and procedures, please contact us to help figure out the best way for you to use Workday® to accomplish your company’s goals.