The Biden administration has announced it will order large employers – those with 100 or more employees -- to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine or require weekly testing for unvaccinated workers.
The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will soon issue an emergency temporary standard to implement the requirement. Companies that fail to comply could face a fine of up to $14,000 per violation.
In addition, employers with 100 or more employees will also be required to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they feel ill after receiving the vaccine.
While this mandate certainly removes the burden on businesses grappling with the decision to mandate vaccines or not, depending on the specifics of the final rule, the requirement could create new administrative burdens, human resource challenges, and costs for businesses. As just an example, one big question that remains unanswered is who will be responsible for paying for the required testing for unvaccinated workers: employers, employees, insurers, or the federal government? We just don’t have any idea yet.
So, what’s the right response if you’re facing these new regulations?
If you’re a large employer without a current vaccination mandate or testing protocol in place, we think it’s okay (and probably best) to hang tight for the moment. OSHA’s rule hasn’t been finalized yet, so it’s best not to rush out any new policy until we have a better grasp on specifics – including how to process disability and religious accommodation requests from employees who refuse vaccination and testing. Once the rule comes out, we’ll be sure to dive deeper into it and offer suggestions for developing a plan that works for your company.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us. Without a doubt, we’ll be tackling this topic in our next webinar, so be sure to tune in for that as well.