OSHA Issues New Private Employer COVID-19 Vaccine/Testing Rule
Earlier today, OSHA released its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring that private employers with 100 or more employees implement a COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing requirement for their employees. Here is a brief summary of the main points of the ETS:
- The rule will take effect when the full text is published on November 5, 2021.
- The rule applies to all private businesses with 100 or more employees. Part-time employees count toward this threshold, but independent contractors do not.
- Employees who choose the vaccine option must complete their vaccine regimen by January 4, 2022.
- Employees who choose the testing option will be tested weekly and will be required to wear masks while on work sites.
- Employers will not have to pay for the ongoing, weekly COVID-19 tests for employees who choose the testing option unless required to do so by other law or a collective bargaining agreement.
- Employers will be required to provide employees paid-time off to get vaccinated and/or recover from any side effects from the vaccine.
- Employers must be in compliance with the paid-time off and unvaccinated masking requirements by December 5, 2021.
- There will also be a 30-day period following November 5, 2021 for the public to comment on the rule. OSHA has specifically requested feedback on whether and to what extent employers with fewer than 100 employees can implement similar vaccine-or-testing programs.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also issued emergency regulations today requiring all health care workers in hospitals, nursing homes and other workplaces that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022. Unlike the OSHA ETS described above, the CMS regulation does not give these health care workers a weekly testing option.
If you have any questions on the ETS or any other employment law developments, please contact Trenam Law’s Employment Law Group.