Earlier this month, President Biden issued an executive order directing OSHA to develop a rule requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is vaccinated or can produce a negative Covid-19 test result weekly before coming to work.
While we cannot say for sure what will be in the rule until OSHA releases it, here are some FAQs regarding the new mandate:
1. When will OSHA issue the rule and when will it become effective?
Answer: It is unknown; it may be weeks before it is issued. Once, issued, the rule will become effective immediately. States that have their own OSHA plans will then be required to adopt the federal OSHA rule or just as effective measures.
2. Which employers will have to comply with the mandate?
Answer: Employers with 100 or more employees.
3. What employees will be counted towards the 100 or more-employee threshold?
Answer: We expect that all employees will count towards the 100 or more-employee threshold, including part-time employees, remote employees, and employees who work at different worksite locations.
4. Will employees who work remotely be required to vaccinate?
Answer: It depends. If the employee does not go into the office, the employer may not have to require that the remote employee be vaccinated.
5. What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Answer: Employers that do not comply can face up to $14,000 per violation. It is unclear what will count as a single violation, but it is anticipated that the fines will be high.
6. If an employer decides to mandate vaccines, who will have to pay for the vaccines?
Answer: Covid-19 vaccinations are free. Employees can find a Covid-19 vaccine location by going to https://www.vaccines.gov/.
7. If an employer decides to mandate vaccines, does the employer have to provide paid time off for employees to be vaccinated?
Answer: Yes. Under the mandate, employers will have to give employees paid time off to be vaccinated and to recover from the vaccination in case they have an adverse effect. However, it remains to be seen how much paid time off employers will be required to offer eligible employees.
8. If an employer allows employees to be tested weekly, does the employer have to pay for the tests?
Answer: The employer might have to pay for the weekly test, but at this time, we do not know for sure that this will be the case.
9. What should employers be doing right now as employers wait for OSHA to release the rule?
Answer: Employers should consider:
1) whether they want to mandate the vaccine for all employees;
2) if monitoring and recording weekly testing is feasible or if it will be unduly burdensome for the employer to manage; and
3) how the employer will handle individuals who object to being vaccinated or even tested.
MBA’s Human Resources department is keeping a close watch on the mandate’s developments. Employers can find a preliminary list of things you should be considering here. While answers about the mandate are limited at this time, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to an HR Consultant at 727-563-1500.