Under the federal vaccine mandate announced by the Biden administration, many large employers will be required to have their workers vaccinated or subject to weekly COVID-19 testing. The current deadline for compliance is January 4, but the situation is a moving target.
On Saturday, November 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit halted the requirements pending their review. Republican attorneys general in at least 26 states have challenged President Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements in five different U.S. appeals courts.
According to CNBC, the Biden administration asked the court to lift the pause and claimed that it could potentially cost hundreds of lives per day. The White House said that businesses should move forward with complying with the requirements by the January 4 deadline despite the court-ordered pause.
Who’s affected by the mandate? Employers with 100 or more employees must ensure that their employees are vaccinated or submitting to regular testing. The mandate affects an estimated 80 million employees. Certain exemptions apply to employees who don’t report to a workplace where other individuals are present, only work from home, or work exclusively outdoors.
What does the mandate mean for employers? Employers will need to prepare official company policies and plans for enforcement, as well as create tracking mechanisms for vaccinations, exemptions, and test results. Employees who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 will need to produce a negative test at least weekly and wear a mask in the workplace. Employers aren’t required to provide or pay for the tests, unless collective bargaining agreements compel them to do so. However, they will have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects of the vaccination.
Companies also must require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 diagnosis. They must then remove the employee from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status, and not allow them to return to work until they meet required criteria.
Employers who don’t adhere to the requirements could face penalties for each violation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with enforcement and compliance.
MarathonHR will be providing a policy/tracking tool to its clients for the purpose of complying with the new federal mandates. As always, if we can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us with questions.