OSHA Issues ETS Vaccination Rule
On Monday (Nov. 5), the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration published an emergency temporary standard requiring employers with 100 or more employees to implement a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for their employees by Jan. 4, 2022.
Employers are also required to provide their employees with a weekly testing alternative to those who refuse or are unable to receive a vaccine, in addition to wearing a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination.
The rule went into effect on the day of its publication in the Federal Register.
According to reports, the new ETS requires that employers include all employees across all U.S. locations, regardless of employees' vaccination status or where they perform their work, when determining where they rank on the OSHA-established threshold.
The rule also notes that part-time employees count towards the company total, but independent contractors do not. There are sections included in the ETS that cover other specific company situations, such as franchisees, multi-employer workplaces and staffing agencies.
If an employer meets the OSHA threshold for the new ETS, they should also bear the cost of providing up to four hours of paid time and reasonable paid sick leave needed to support vaccination.
However, in the event that an employee refuses vaccination, the employer is not responsible for payments associated with regular COVID-19 testing or the use of face coverings.
Previously, OSHA’s intent to issue an ETS was announced in September as a part of President Joe Biden’s six-pronged comprehensive national strategy to combat COVID-19. The prongs of the White House plan are as follows:
The new rule is estimated to affect some 80 million workers, according to The New York Times.
Additional reports imply that companies reaching the threshold will be largely responsible for enforcing the new rule. While there are not enough state and federal OSHA inspectors to follow-up on the vaccinations nationwide, the Administration reports that it plans to respond to employee complaints and will add coronavirus-related inspections to their to-do lists when onsite.
Employers that violate the rule can face fines of up to $13,653 per violation for serious violations and 10 times that for willful or repeated violations.
Additional Vaccination Mandates
Last month, President Biden issued guidance requiring that federal contractors and subcontractors be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8.
Issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, the guidance applies to all covered contractor employees, including “contractor or subcontractor employees in covered contractor workplaces who are not working on a federal government contract or contract-like instrument.”
The guidance also applies to “subcontractors at all tiers, except for subcontracts solely for the provision of products,” in addition to all workplace locations as well as individuals on remote work or who work outside.
Companies that are currently doing business with the government directly have been required to designate a coordinator to implement the new workplace safety requirements.
Under the new rules, federal contractors and subcontractors with a covered contract will be required to conform to the following workplace safety protocols: