Large employers should soon have specific guidance on complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine and testing mandate. On September 9, President Biden announced that OSHA would issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on an expedited basis. The new rule will require employers with 100 or more employees to mandate employee vaccination or testing. Covered employers must also provide employees with paid time off to get the vaccine or recover from any side effects.
On October 12, 2021, OSHA sent the proposed ETS to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Once the White House office concludes its review, the ETS would be published in the Federal Register and take effect immediately. OSHA may provide some limited time to comply with the ETS, but given President Biden’s push to vaccinate much of the United States’ workforce, we expect the time to comply to be limited.
Detailed information about the proposed ETS is not yet available. Under the circumstances, we suggest that employers begin preparing for the inevitable, as well as the likelihood that some employees may seek religious or medical exemptions from vaccination and even regular testing. Employers need to be prepared to handle these situations, including determining medical and religious accommodations, and for those employees who simply refuse to comply, termination of their employment.
We are closely monitoring this situation and will provide further information as it becomes available.