What is the federal vaccine mandate and how do I stay to be compliant?
On September 9th, President Biden announced that all private businesses with more than 100 employees must mandate COVID-19 vaccinations within their workforce or subject those that are unvaccinated to weekly testing.
This week, The Biden administration issued the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) stating that all businesses that fall into this category will need to have their employees vaccinated or conduct weekly testing and wear masks by January 10th, 2022. At this time, OSHA will begin issuing citations for businesses that are not compliant on February 9th. For those who work in nursing homes and hospitals, the vaccine will be required and weekly testing will not be an option. Employees who do not regularly report to a workplace and work remotely are not subject to these requirements.
- The 100 employee count is a true body count, not a “full time equivalent” count. When your business has 100 or more employees at any given time you are subject to this mandate.
- Your business must make reasonable accommodations for employees to get vaccinated and tested, including up to 4 hours of paid time off to get vaccinated.
- Employers are not required to pay for or provide any testing or vaccinations, but must track the vaccination status of each employee and their weekly tests.
- Unvaccinated employees must wear a face covering at all times while working, and the employer must ensure compliance.
Companies that do not comply with this deadline will face an OSHA violation with fines up to $14,000 per offense.
The 100 employee threshold applies for “aggregate groups” as well. “Aggregate groups” are separate business entities with common ownership. If the total number of employees of all individual businesses is greater than 100 at any one time, your company must follow the federal vaccine mandate requirements.
Are there exemptions from the mandate and how should I handle them?
Unfortunately, there will be opposition to the mandate from employees. Employees are allowed to ask to be exempt from the vaccine or weekly testing for the following reasons:
- Medical Reasons
- Religious Beliefs
Each situation may be different and can result in different accommodations. Try to make resonable accommodation like:
Can the employee…
- Wear a mask while at work
- Work in a different location or on a different shift than other employees
- Work remotely
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has updated guidance when dealing with exemptions.
What should I do before February 9th?
Companies should update policies and procedures to align with these new requirements. Your first step should be to develop a policy to administer this requirement. Be sure you’re covering all of the topics required under the ETS. You can download a sample mandatory vaccination policy here:
- Track Vaccination Status of each employee within isolved
- Store copies of vaccination records and testing electronically & securely
- Setup weekly reminders for managers and staff to submit negative test results for unvaccinated employees
If you’d like assistance setting up any of these tools, please contact a member of our team!