The Biden Administration today announced that businesses with more than 100 employees must have their workforce fully vaccinated for Covid-19 no later than Jan. 4.
Those who do not comply must enact weekly testing of their unvaccinated workers, and unvaccinated workers will be forced to wear masks, while vaccinated persons will not, according to the regulations released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday.
Also, by Dec. 5, any unvaccinated person working for one of the companies affected by the mandate will be required by federal regulation to wear a mask while on the job.
More than 80 million Americans are thought to be affected by the regulation, which also orders companies to give paid time off to employees who want to get vaccinated, as well as paid time off for any side effects, through Dec. 5.
Companies that do not comply may be fined up to $14,000 per violation. Any further or defiant noncompliance could draw even higher fines, OSHA said.
OSHA says this new rule will supersede any state or local laws that prevent such mandates. There are no exemptions for those with natural immunity to the Covid virus.
“OSHA determined that workers who have been infected with COVID-19 but have not been fully vaccinated still face a grave danger from workplace exposure to SARS-CoV-2,” according to OSHA.
It appears the agency is starting to work on widening the mandate for those employers with a workforce of less than 100.
“The agency is moving in a stepwise fashion on the short timeline necessitated by the danger presented by COVID-19 while soliciting stakeholder comment and additional information to determine whether to adjust the scope of the [emergency temporary standard] to address smaller employers in the future,” OSHA said, asking employers to offer their guidance on whether the Biden Administration should “impose a strict vaccination mandate (i.e., all employers required to implement mandatory vaccination policies as defined in this [emergency temporary standard]) with no alternative compliance option.”
Several lawsuits from Republican-run states are in the queue, which may lead to a court-ordered hold on the OSHA rule.