The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that it has begun the process to create an Emergency Temporary Standard that will require large employers to institute vaccination and testing procedures for COVID-19. The rule, if it successfully goes through the administrative process, would potentially result in mandatory vaccination for any affected companies, with weekly testing for anyone who cannot or will not be vaccinated. Early proposals for the rule also include potential fines for anyone who defies this mandate, as well as tax credits to help employers in complying with the new rule.
What is This New Rule?
The new rule, which is in the earliest stages of planning, would require employers with more than 100 employees to create policies requiring COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone who cannot, or will not, comply with the vaccination requirement would instead need to undergo weekly COVID testing to ensure they are not infected. It would also give them paid time off to get vaccinated, and to recover from the vaccine in the event that they suffer some of the more extreme side effects associated with COVID-19 vaccines.
Why is This Rule Being Implemented?
OSHA began the process of creating the rule after an announcement from the Biden administration, which noted the large number of people who refuse to get vaccinated despite eligibility and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine. This reticence to get vaccinated has a real impact, with emergency rooms and intensive care units around the country filled with people suffering from COVID-19. This, in turn, has led to a crisis where there are not sufficient facilities or personnel to handle all of the severely ill COVID patients in a given area, putting enormous strain on the healthcare system.
How Will This Affect Employees?
Employees of large businesses who have yet to get vaccinated may be compelled to get a vaccination, or otherwise to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, should the rule be put into effect. Those who do not may face legal penalties, including proposed fines as high as $14,000. Ultimately, as many as 80 million employees are likely to be affected by this new rule.
When Will This Rule Come Into Effect?
Right now, the OSHA rule is still in the process of being created, meaning it is likely months out from implementation. Even then, many crucial details, such as how vaccination and testing will be tracked, have yet to be hammered out. Employers, however, may want to begin considering how they might implement such a policy, should the rule become law.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.