November Update to Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
By Jeff Chittaro | Published November 10, 2021
Last week, Federal OSHA took the much-anticipated step of filing and publishing their Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Publication of the new ETS was completed on November 5th, and with this action, the clock has started to tick for employers, and State OSHA plans to align accordingly. A recent draft was already circulating on Cal/OSHA’s own Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), and a vote was expected as soon as the end of the year. With only 15 days to submit their plan of action to Federal OSHA, we will have our answer soon enough. Many employers were well aware of this impending deadline and have already taken appropriate steps. For those that have not, now is the time to act.
What does the mandate state?
Employers with at least 100 employees will be required to implement a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. The mandate includes companies with 100 employees or greater as they felt these companies had the administrative expertise to carry out such programs. They have not ruled out including smaller firms at a later date but advise that additional time will be needed to assess the capacity of those firms. Be sure to review these links to the (ETS) “Emergency Temporary Standard Summary” and frequently asked questions.
Requirements of a COVID-19 vaccine policy:
The ETS requires covered employees to develop, implement and enforce a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. The policy has two key requirements, and employers should take the time to understand the implications of both before making a final decision. The options available include:
Ensure that all employees are fully vaccinated, OR
Fully vaccinated includes receiving both doses of the two-shot vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Ensure that employees are tested for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis in addition to requiring face coverings at work.
The standard does not apply to workplaces covered under the federal contractor requirement and those working under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services who are required to be vaccinated under a separate rule with no option for weekly testing. Companies will need to keep an eye on those standards as well as they appear to be aligning their compliance dates with the federal mandate.
Timeline of action
Deadlines are looming, with several key dates marked on the calendar in the next 60 days.
December 6th – Compliance with providing paid time off (such as up to 4 hours to receive each vaccination dose) and masking for unvaccinated workers go into effect.
January 4th – The testing requirement for all unvaccinated employees is live.
OSHA has provided several templates that can be used as a guide when implementing your programs, including their Mandatory Vaccine Policy Template and Vaccination or Testing and Face Covering Template.
Legal objections to the new standard have already been filed, and we will continue to monitor these activities and the actions of CAL/OSHA. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to the Newfront Risk Management Team at email@example.com
Jeff is the Senior Manager of Risk Control Services at Newfront.