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What You Need to Know: COVID-19 Vaccine Company Mandates

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Published On: November 12, 2021

Editor’s Note: News and updates surrounding COVID-19 vaccination mandates continue to evolve rapidly. We will update this piece as developments continue to unfold. For state-specific guidance, please refer to OSHA’s guidance here.

 

Information continues to unfold surrounding COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employers. Below we cover what employers need to know, how and if your company is affected, important deadlines to consider and more.

 

Who Is Affected?

 

The new vaccine mandate issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires companies with 100 or more employees, an estimated 84 million workers, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 4, 2022. If employees opt to forgo a vaccine, then those workers must submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.

 

Healthcare workers are also affected by the new mandate; however, they do not have the option to waive the vaccine and opt for weekly COVID-19 testing. This ruling applies covers all employees clinical and non-clinical. President Biden also ordered that all federal workers and contractors be vaccinated, eliminating the option test weekly.

 

Another critical factor for employers to weigh is their workforce’s right to reasonable accommodation, should employees refuse to be vaccinated citing religious, disability or medical reasons.

 

What Can You Do to Explore Reasonable Accommodations?

 

If applicable, the first action that should be taken to explore reasonable accommodations includes obtaining information from the employee’s medical provider about their need for accommodation and the expected duration. Other accommodations for workers who refuse vaccination include:

  • Working remotely
  • A combination of COVID-19 testing, masking and physical distancing
  • Moving your employee to a private workspace

Still, employers can reject a job modification if that change would cause “undue hardship” for the business. What does an undue hardship look like? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) differs on this definition from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which covers religious accommodations.

 

For more on reasonable accommodation, check out this related piece to learn more.

 

Compliance Deadlines

On November 5, 2021, the White House announced the following deadlines regarding OSHA’s emergency temporary standard:

  • All unvaccinated workers must begin wearing masks by December 5, 2021 and provide a negative COVID-19 test every week starting January 4, 2022.
  • Employers must pay employees for the time it takes to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects preventing them from working.
  •  Companies are not required to pay for or provide testing unless state or local laws note otherwise.

Additional Resources

Looking for more exclusive content? Check out the latest on the Mployer Advisor blog.

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Samantha Brisch

Content Marketing Analyst, Mployer Advisor

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