President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday released details about its new vaccination rule for large employers, setting a Jan. 4, 2022, deadline for workers to get their shots.
Workers who do not want to have their COVID-19 tested will be asked to produce proof on a week-by-week basis.
It ruleThe Occupational Safety and Hyg Administration will enforce the requirement. It will only apply to companies with more than 100 employees. The White House believes that this will affect 84 millions workers.
For workers to have their chance, employers will need to pay for time off.
Jim Frederick, the deputy assistant secretary for labor occupational safety and security, stated Thursday that while great strides have been made in vaccinations, there is still much to be done.
“There are still so many workers who are not protected and remain at risk of being seriously ill or dying from COVID-19,” he said on a press call.
Technically, the rule will go into effect on Friday. However, it will take 30 days for certain provisions to become effective, such as a requirement that employers make sure masking is enforced in the workplace. Within 60 days workers must show or provide testing results.
This rule is known as the temporary emergency standard. It has been in development for several months. OSHA officials stated that they were trying to allow employers more time for preparations, so the Jan. 4, deadline was set.
Seema Nanda, the Labor Department’s solicitor, said the administration believed it was on sound legal grounds for issuing the rule. The standard will apply wherever OSHA is located. States that have their own occupational safety-and-health programs are required to adopt a similar standard. The rule has been challenged in court by many Republican states.
“The Occupational Safety and Health Act … gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds workers are subjected to a grave danger and new standard is necessary to protect them,” Nanda said.
Citing the roughly 750,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S., Nanda said COVID-19 “is clearly a health hazard that poses a grave danger to workers.”
While the majority of the rules apply to the private industry, OSHA regulations will also be applicable to government workers in those states.
Asked why the administration limited the rule’s applicability to firms with 100 workers, Frederick said they felt large employers would have the administrative capacity to quickly implement it.
“It will reach all the largest workplaces where the worst outbreaks have occurred,” he said.
Nanda however noted that the rule was currently in the midst of a public comment period, during which the public may weigh in. Nanda also said that the administration will consider expanding the rules to small employers.
Employers will not be required to cover the costs of testing for workers who aren’t vaccinated. Frederick said the rule “does not preclude employers” from taking disciplinary action when workers do not get vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Republicans were critical of the Obama vaccine rule rollout, while Democrats applauded it.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.), ranking Republican on the House Committee on Education and Labor, called the emergency rule “egregious.” “Biden wants the federal government to control every aspect of American workers’ and business owners’ lives,” she said in a statement.
Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash. chair, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee called the rule “common sense.”
“This workplace safety standard is an essential step toward helping workers stay safe on the job, putting us on the path to ending this pandemic, and keeping our economic recovery on track,” Murray said in a statement.