Cue the lights and sirens, America: The vaccine police will soon be coming to a workplace near you.
And, according to one report, workers who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus may pay the price.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency within the Department of Labor, said Monday that an interagency review has been completed that was the final step for its plan to enforce President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate on employers with 100 or more workers.
“On November 1, the Office of Management and Budget completed its regulatory review of the emergency temporary standard. The Federal Register will publish the emergency temporary standard in the coming days,” a Labor Department spokesman said, according to CNN.
“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been working expeditiously to develop an emergency temporary standard that covers employers with 100 or more employees, firm- or company-wide, and provides options for compliance.”
“Covered employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose either to get vaccinated or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. The ETS also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and paid sick leave to recover from any side effects,” the spokesman added.
ETS is bureaucratic shorthand for “emergency temporary standard.” As an ETS, the rule takes effect immediately, even while a public comment period takes place.
Fines could hit $14,000 per violation.
Based on sources it did not name, Bloomberg said the rule will give employers the option of making unvaccinated employees pay for the testing and masks required by the law.
Some employees would qualify for an exemption under federal law.
In a separate article, Bloomberg explained the possible rationale for putting the fiscal burden on workers.
“After all, making the fallback route of weekly testing a financial burden for the employee would encourage more folks to take the vaccination pathway. The administration in the process would tamp down business opposition by delivering on a key industry ask — relief from being forced to shoulder those costs — while giving employers the option of absorbing testing costs if they fear losing workers,” the outlet reported.
Jordan Barab, a former OHSA official, said the Biden White House most likely pushed for the provision, which he called a “really bad precedent.”
“OSHA’s always had a firm policy that employers pay for all required tests and equipment,” Barab said, noting the possible exception of work boots. “This would be totally unprecedented and therefore set a bad standard for future OSHA requirements.”
Multiple Republican state attorneys general have said they would challenge the law when it appears in the Federal Register, The Washington Post reported. Depending upon how the courts act, the effective date of the new rules could be delayed.
The rule may also have a grace period, according to the Post, which noted that employers have been concerned about imposing new rules around the upcoming holidays at a time when labor shortages and supply chain issues are making routine operations a challenge.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.