The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on vaccination and testing in the workplace.  The ETS establishes requirements for large employers (100 or more employees) to protect unvaccinated employees from contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. The deadline for compliance is January 4, 2022. 

Under the ETS, large employers are required to develop, implement, and enforce a workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy. Employees can choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Employers are to require employees who choose not to be vaccinated to wear face coverings in the workplace and undergo regular testing for COVID-19. Additionally, this ETS preempts state and local laws. 

Here’s what employers are required to do: 

  • Develop, implement, and enforce mandatory vaccine policy. This policy may include the option of mandatory face coverings and weekly testing, if an employee does not want to receive the vaccine. 
  • Determine and keep records of your employees’ vaccination status. 
  • Support vaccination by allowing paid time off to receive the vaccine or to recover from any side effects that occur after receiving the vaccine. 
  • Ensure that you enforce weekly testing or require an employee to test negative within 7 days of returning to the workplace. 
  • Require prompt notification of a positive COVID-19 test or diagnosis. 
  • If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, whether or not they have been vaccinated, immediately remove them from the workplace, until work criteria is met. 
  • Ensure all unvaccinated employees 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. 
  • Make certain records available to employees for examination and copying. 

OSHA plans to have programed or planned inspections. Agents will visit workplaces to check on compliance with the rule.  

For what OSHA refers to as willful penalties, a company can be fined $136,532. This is the standard penalty for a single violation. The number would increase if there are multiple violations in a workplace.  

All employers should have a legally drafted vaccine program, to clarify the company’s stance on the vaccine. Employers need to clarify if they will mandate a vaccine by Jan 4, 2022, and additional rules that would apply, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and testing requirements.  

Vaccine and testing requirements are just some of the many compliance challenges employers face in the coming year.  

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Download the on-demand webinar to hear from experts from HR and legal advisory firm, myHRCounsel, as they discuss new laws affecting construction companies in 2022. 

Attendees will learn more about: 

  • Extensions of Current COVID-19 Guidelines for Vaccine & Mask Mandates 
  • ADA Accommodation Updates 
  • Preparing for ACA Reporting 
  • Employee Handbook Reviews and Why It Matters 

 

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This blog article is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion.  Contact myHRcounsel with questions about the use and enforcement of vaccine mandates.