Biden COVID Vaccination Plan Sets Deadline for Large Company Employees

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WASHINGTON – Workers at large companies will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 4, 2022, or undergo regular testing under new federal rules released Thursday.

Workers who choose the testing option may have to bear the cost. They will also have to wear a face mask at work, starting December 5.

The rules fill in the details of the vaccination requirement announced in September by President Joe Biden for companies with 100 or more employees.

“COVID-19 continues to dampen our workforce and our economy – and it will continue to do so until more Americans are vaccinated,” wrote Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Jeff Zients, the coordinator. of the White House’s COVID-19 response, in an opinion piece for USA TODAY.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement also applies to state and local government employees in 26 states, including teachers and school personnel.

Twenty-one of these states have the ability to write their own labor rules for public and private sector workers. But these rules cannot be weaker than what the federal government requires – and must be passed in 30 days.

Three states, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah, have already passed the deadline to adopt an OSHA emergency rule released in June for healthcare workers.

The latest federal rules, which cover around 84 million employees, are expected to be immediately challenged by GOP-led states, some of which have already moved to ban vaccination requirements.

“When the Biden administration releases the OSHA vaccine mandate in the next few days, we will take immediate legal action,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said last week.

Related: 17 million healthcare workers must be vaccinated by January 4 as part of Biden’s COVID-19 mandate

Debate, challenges expected quickly

Republicans have denounced the workplace requirement as overly federal in scope and a threat to individual liberty that will lead to massive disruption in the labor market.

“Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive,” Biden warned in September 24 state attorneys general.

Large trading groups like the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have not spoken out against a requirement, although they have requested more information on how the new rules will be implemented.

But some organizations, including the National Retail Federation and the American Trucking Association, had called for the requirements to take effect only after the peak holiday season to avoid disruption if workers quit.

The new rules do that. In addition, the previously announced December 8 deadline for federal contractors to be fully immunized is extended to January 4, 2022. This is also the immunization deadline for workers in healthcare facilities who treat Medicare patients. or Medicaid.

The deadlines have been aligned to facilitate compliance across the labor market, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

The rules for federal contractors and healthcare workers, however, are stricter and do not include a testing option.

But Walsh, the secretary of labor, pointed out that OSHA’s requirements for other businesses are a “floor for safety – not a ceiling.” Many companies have already imposed comprehensive vaccination requirements, Walsh noted in his opinion piece with Zients.

Biden said he reluctantly agreed to the vaccination requirements after educational efforts and various incentives failed to persuade enough Americans to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

The requirements have increased vaccination rates in businesses and institutions by at least 20%, according to the administration.

Almost 90% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about 70% of adults are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Combined, the rules for large corporations, federal contractors, and healthcare workers are estimated by Goldman Sachs to cover 80% of the nation’s workforce.

While some employees will quit their jobs rather than get vaccinated, the finance company predicted that the reduced spread of the virus due to higher vaccination rates would have a bigger – and positive – effect on the economy.

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If you’ve had COVID and been double vaccinated, you may not need a booster

Research suggests that COVID infection and vaccination offer the strongest protection against a wide range of variants, possibly for a long time.


About the new OSHA rules

The requirements issued by the Department of Labor on Thursday use an emergency procedure that bypasses OSHA’s normal, time-consuming rulemaking process.

To withstand a legal challenge, the agency will have to prove that the rules are necessary to protect workers from serious harm.

The administration estimates the requirements will save thousands of lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations within six months of implementation.

Sidney Shapiro, a Wake Forest law professor who worked as an OSHA consultant, told a congressional panel last week that the emergency standard had been met.

“It is true that the situation is improving, but not everywhere, it is not certain,” said Shapiro. “And COVID, unfortunately, is not going to go away. “

Scott Hecker, the workplace safety attorney who Republicans invited to testify, said OSHA must explain why, if COVID is such a serious danger, the agency has not included a vaccination requirement when she published new rules four months ago.

In addition to hitting large companies, vaccination rules also apply to state and local government employees in more than half of the states.

Five states – Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, and New York – have OSHA-approved plans specifically for public employees.

Twenty-one states operate their own workplace application. They are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming .

As a condition of not using OSHA, the workplace rules of those states should apply to public employees as well as the private sector. In addition, their rules must be “at least as effective”.

If states fail to comply, the labor ministry can remove some of the enforcement authority in a state’s workplace, a senior administration official confirmed.

And the administration stressed that federal regulations take precedence over any state or local bans on vaccination requirements or mask warrants.

Even before Biden announced the next standard in September, a quarter of private employers had vaccine requirements, according to Doron Dorfman, professor of law at Syracuse University.

According to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, five percent of unvaccinated adults surveyed in October said they quit their jobs because of a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

If faced with a requirement, more unvaccinated workers (46%) said they would most likely choose weekly testing rather than quitting their jobs (37%) or getting vaccinated (11%). If the weekly test is not an option, 17% said they would get the shot and 72% said they would stop.

Survey: 5% of unvaccinated adults quit their job due to compulsory vaccination

Following: Public employees, including teachers, in 26 states will face a federal vaccination requirement

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