OSHA Issues COVID Vaccine Rules for Large Employers

OSHA Issues COVID Vaccine Rules for Large Employers

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on November 4, 2021 an emergency temporary standard (ETS) providing regulatory requirements for private sector employers on COVID-19 workplace vaccination and testing mandates. The regulations, effective on November 5th, outline the requirements for companies with a total of 100 employees or more to mandate that workers receive COVID-19 vaccinations or undergo weekly testing, with additional requirements.

The regulations are very lengthy, we have included a few key highlights below.

  • By December 5, employers need to have a vaccine policy and assess their workforce to determine and establish a record of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.
  • Starting December 5, employers must ensure that unvaccinated workers are masked in the workplace.
  • The rules require that workers be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022 or submit to weekly testing.
  • Employers must provide up to four hours of paid leave for employees to obtain the vaccination.
  • Employers must provide reasonable time and paid sick leave to recover from side effects of obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Employers are not required to pay for or provide COVID-19 tests or the use of face coverings unless they are otherwise required to by state or local laws or in labor union contracts.
  • Employers are required to maintain records to comply with this law.

The regulations go on to state that OSHA needs more time to assess the capacity of smaller employers to enforce similar rules and is asking for comments to help with that determination.

The Department of Labor has provided fact sheets, FAQs and Policy Templates located here.  

Click here to watch a special briefing from the U.S. Chamber on OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard for Covid Vaccinations

Challenges from multiple states have resulted in a temporary halt of the mandate ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has responded that they are fully prepared to defend OSHA’s standard in court.