The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will issue an emergency temporary rule requiring employers to ensure that employees are either vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 weekly before coming to work. Employers may, however, choose to require the vaccine without allowing for a testing option. The plan is designed to combat the Delta variant of COVID-19.
OSHA’s emergency temporary rule follows President Joe Biden’s Sept. 9 announcement that private employers with at least 100 employees will need to ensure that employees are either vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 weekly before coming to work.
OSHA’s new emergency temporary standard will require covered employers to give their workers paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from post-vaccination reactions. Employers who fail to comply could be subject to fines of up to $14,000 per violation. The plan will include an expansion of free testing.
OSHA did not say when to expect the new emergency standard. The plan could provide employers a clear path to vaccine mandates, but legal challenges are expected. It’s still unclear if remote workers will be included in the mandates.
Beyond the private sector, a new executive order requires federal government employees and federal contractors to be vaccinated; they will no longer have the option to get tested as they had in the past. Employees at health care facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will also need to be fully vaccinated.
The plan is expected to impact approximately 100 million Americans.