President Biden directed OSHA to write a rule requiring employers with at least 100 workers to force employees to get vaccinated or produce weekly test results showing they are virus-free.
Currently, More than 190 million Americans are fully vaccinated… but the White House says that leaves approximately 70 million adults eligible for inoculation that has not yet received their first shot.
Businesses are waiting to see how OSHA handles difficult questions such as:
- How are 100 workers defined?
- Which vaccines or vaccine combinations are acceptable, which aren’t?
- Which tests are acceptable to prove a negative?
- How should employers handle requests from employees who seek exemptions on religious or medical grounds?
- Who’s going to pay for the testing?
- Will there be a leave requirement for testing?
- What happens when aggregate leave exceeds emergency leave requirements?
- Who pays for testing if free tests are not available?
Preparing for Pending OSHA Vaccination Mandate
Once again, employers need to prepare for future obligations without a clear picture of what they are preparing for. Regardless, it is important to start, knowing that the emergency temporary order is coming. Steps to consider include:
- Start educating and encouraging all employees to get vaccinated to make compliance easier once the rule goes into effect.
- Determine the policy to be implemented: mandatory vaccination vs. vaccination or weekly testing.
- Employers are required to provide paid leave for workers to get vaccinated and recover from any adverse effects of vaccination. Prepare the processes for employees to request leave.
- Determine the policy for reimbursement of weekly testing. Some jurisdictions require employer reimbursement for mandatory tests.
- Non-exempt employees should be paid for testing that occurs during the workday.
Employers should consult their professional advisors regarding paid time for
testing that occurs outside work hours.
- Establish procedures for handling requests for accommodation for religious or medical reasons. Proof that will be required? Handling of protected information collected as supporting documentation?
- Consider how established policies and procedures will impact culture, retention, and future recruitment