Updated: November 30, 2021
On November 5, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on COVID-19 vaccination and testing in the workplace. The ETS establishes requirements for large employers (100+) – part-time employees do count towards the company total, but independent contractors do not. January 4, 2022, is the scheduled deadline for employers to comply with the weekly testing of unvaccinated employees part of the mandate.
On November 16, 2021, OSHA suspended all activities relating to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending further litigation. However, this is still a temporary ruling and will be appealed, most likely all the way to the Supreme Court, which would make the final decision.
Although not expressly stated, this means that employers under the rule have a reprieve of the upcoming December 5, 2021 deadline, and likely the January 4, 2022 deadline as well, as the courts will take some time to provide much-needed clarity and a final decision.
In light of all the uncertainty for employers, we still want to provide the information necessary to be compliant with the mandate – should it be upheld!
Under the ETS, employers are required to develop, implement, and enforce a workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy. Employees will need to receive their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (be “fully vaccinated”) by the deadline, or if they choose not to, they are required to wear face coverings in the workplace & undergo weekly testing for COVID-19. Additionally, this ETS preempts less-protective state and local laws.
Here’s what employers are required to do under the ETS:
- Develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy.
- Keep records of your employee’s vaccination status and track weekly testing of unvaccinated employees.
- Support vaccination by allowing paid time off to receive the vaccine or to recover from any side effects that occur after receiving the vaccine.
- Enforce weekly testing or require an employee to test negative within 7 days of returning to the workplace.
- If a vaccinated or non-vaccinated employee tests positive, immediately remove them from the workplace, until your policy criteria is met.
- All unvaccinated employees must always wear face coverings in a workplace setting.
- Report work-related COVID-19 fatalities to OSHA within 8 hours of learning about them, and any COVID-19 related hospitalizations within 24 hours of learning about the hospitalization.
Important!! Check out OHSA’s FAQs often, they are constantly adding helpful information. A timeline is located in Section 12.A
Compliance & Penalties
All employers need to have a vaccine and testing policy to clarify whether the employer is mandating a vaccine by January 4, 2022, or if the employer does not mandate the vaccine – outline the company’s policy on mask wearing, social distancing, and weekly testing requirements (and who pays for the testing).
OSHA plans to have programed or planned inspections, where agents go onsite to check that the business is in compliance with the mandate. For what OSHA refers to as willful penalties, the standard penalty is $13,653 for a single violation and the number would increase if there are multiple violations at a business and penalties can be up to $136,532.
Note: This blog is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Contact a labor attorney with any questions about the use and enforcement of vaccine mandates.
Efficient Hire has Released a New Feature to Help Employers Track COVID-19 Vaccines & Testing
Why is this important?
This new feature automates the tracking and related document storage of employee COVID-19 vaccination and testing. When it’s time to show provide proof ofcompliance with any State, Federal, or Company Policy requirements, you’ll have access to all the data in Efficient Hire.
How does it work?
This is a new feature that is available in Efficient Hire Onboarding – here’s a quick overview:
- During onboarding we will gather all COVID-19 information for Vaccinations, Testing, Boosters, and Exemptions – applicable to the employee
- Employees will be required to review and e-sign your COVID-19 Vaccine Policy
- A dashboard with filters will allow the admin or manager to manage employee records, including the ability to upload verified documents
- Track weekly testing for unvaccinated employees and ongoing weekly testing email reminders are automatically sent to unvaccinated employees
A few things to think about:
- Start planning – what is your Policy? SHRM has some good info.
- Be clear about expectations
- Be ready for religious and medical accommodation requests
- Be ready to track!
We are excited to launch this new feature to help employers gain efficiency and stay in compliance with vaccination and testing mandates. If you are a large employer and concerned about how you will manage compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, reach out to our sales team for more information today!