The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the workplace, Construction Dive reports. The standard requires employers with 100 or more employees to implement a vaccination requirement by January 4th. Those who refuse or are unable to get a vaccine will be offered a weekly testing alternative which will be put into effect by the same deadline.
In determining whether they meet the 100-employees threshold, employers must include all employees across all of their U.S. locations, regardless of employees' vaccination status or where they perform their work, per the ETS. Part-time employees do count towards the company total, but independent contractors do not. Additional sections of the ETS detail how the threshold should be determined in situations involving franchisees, multi-employer workplaces and staffing agencies.
All covered employers are required by the ETS to bear the cost of providing up to four hours of paid time and reasonable paid sick leave needed to support vaccination, but where an employee chooses to remain unvaccinated, the ETS does not require employers to pay for the costs associated with regular COVID-19 testing or the use of face coverings. Some employees may be entitled to reasonable accommodation from their employer, absent undue hardship, due to a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief. Stakeholders have until 30 days after the date of the rule's publication to submit public comments.
It is a monumental — if expected — development for workplaces throughout the U.S. But expect news on the ETS to move fast as states file legal challenges against the Biden administration.