Editor’s Note: News and updates surrounding COVID-19 vaccination mandates continue to evolve rapidly. Check back for news on the Mployer Advisor blog as developments continue to unfold. For state-specific guidance, please refer to OSHA’s site here.
Last week, we updated our readers that the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate was set to go into effect early January 2022. However, backlash against the ruling has forced Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to suspend its intended enforcement of the Biden administration’s policy.
The mandate requiring companies employing 100 or more workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly by January 4, 2022, was blocked by a federal appeals court last week. The appeal orders OSHA to suspend activities related to the enforcement of the mandate. President Biden issued the mandate back in September in hopes of swaying millions of people to get vaccinated.
In a statement, OSHA noted: “While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the [Emergency Temporary Standard] ETS pending future developments in the litigation.”
Why Is the Mandate Suspended?
The decision to suspend the vaccine mandate went into effect on November 6, effectively halting the Biden administration’s vaccine and testing mandate for large employers. The U.S. Court of Appeals claims that OSHA has exceeded its authority with the mandate, but the Biden Administration responded to the ban asking private businesses to continue enforcing vaccinations internally.
What Happens Next?
According to a report from NPR, approximately 24 states are challenging the mandate in court, including a separate lawsuit filed by 11 states. However, U.S. employers can still require employees to be vaccinated under federal law, but they must give workers paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from potential side effects.