On September 9, 2021 President Biden announced that he would be putting guidelines into place to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for the employees of any business with 100 or more workers. Along with this huge announcement came many questions and concerns: Who does this apply to?, Are there any exceptions?, When does this have to be completed by?, among many others. Well, the wait for answers is finally over. Yesterday (November 4, 2021), an emergency temporary standard (ETS) spelling out the regulations regarding the COVID-19 directive was released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Today, it was accepted and published in the Federal Register.
The directive applies to “covered workers” (who, according to the White House, is 2/3 of all American workers). This simply means anyone who works for a company that employs 100 or more people must comply with the directive. The summary of instructions for compliance are as follows:
- All covered employees must have both doses of any approved COVID-19 vaccine by January 4, 2022.
- Company must provide employees paid time off to receive and recover from any side effects of the vaccination.
- Any employee who cannot or will not get vaccinated must continue to mask up at work and must provide weekly, verified negative COVID-19 tests.
- Companies are not required to pay for testing unless otherwise required by states with provisions in their wage laws that could bar businesses from charging employees for medical testing.
- Employees who test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed by a licensed health care provider must notify their employer and be removed from the workplace immediately.
- Employers must collect, verify, and maintain all employee records and proof of COVID-19 vaccination status.
- Employees who are unvaccinated but work remotely, work outside, or work indoors with no other employees are considered exempt from the required testing, as they pose no grave danger to others.
The ETS goes into effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register (November 5, 2021). Masks are required for all unvaccinated employees beginning on December 5, 2021. Sixty days from the date of publication (January 4, 2022), employees must have all necessary doses of their chosen vaccine. If they only have one or have chosen to forego vaccination, they must begin a weekly testing regimen until their vaccine doses are completed.
Effective Dates for Employer Requirements
You can find the entire emergency temporary standard in the Federal Register, or you can access the FAQ page, summary, and fact sheet directly on OSHA’s website. As always, please continue to follow the Journey blog for important updates.